A free-kick thunderbolt from James Tavernier secured a point for Rangers in a game they should have won against 10-man Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Kris Boyd’s first-half goal gave the hosts the lead before Tavernier scored a world-class goal midway through the second half.
With just under 9000 fans making the journey to Ayrshire Rangers boss Mark Warburton made two changes to the team which faced Motherwell with Andy Halliday dropping out for Joe Dodoo. Danny Wilson picked up an injury during the warm-up and had to be replaced by Clint Hill, who was originally named as a substitute. New signing Joe Garner started on the bench.
Rangers had much of the early play and controlled possession and could have raced into a early lead had Lee Wallace’s lob been better executed. Joe Dodoo was hurt in the process and would be replaced by debutant Joe Garner on 15 minutes. As the half progressed Kilmarnock found a way into the game and Kris Boyd and Greg Kiltie both had chances to open the scoring. The hosts also won a number of set-pieces in the first half-hour and Rangers continued to look very unorganised at corners.
Kilmarnock took the lead against the run of play when Kiltie’s long ball found Boyd who out-paced Clint Hill before firing low beyond Wes Foderingham. Warburton’s side should have had a penalty not long after when Gary Dicker wrestled Joey Barton to the ground but Kevin Clancy decided not to give the spot kick. Joe Garner had a number of opportunities to grab his first Rangers goal but the Englishman failed to test Jamie MacDonald in the Killie goal.
Rangers began the second half looking to quickly restore parity and had a claim for a penalty after 50 minutes when Garner went down in the box but the ex-Preston striker went down far too easily. Barrie McKay was next to try his luck but his long distance strike sailed over the bar.
Rangers finally equalised on 58 minutes when James Tavernier cannoned a free-kick beyond MacDonald from 35 yards. An absolutely ridiculous goal. Dean Hawkshaw was booked for giving the free-kick away for a foul on McKay and Tavernier fired an unstoppable strike into the top corner.
Kenny Miller almost put Rangers in-front just two minutes later when Tavernier picked him out on the counter. Miller’s first touch took him clear of the defender but MacDonald was quick to react and smother the ball.
Kilmarnock were reduced to ten men when Greg Taylor was shown a straight red card for a potentially leg-breaking challenge on Joey Barton which the Rangers midfield was lucky to escape without serious injury. A scandalous challenge which will probably see Taylor, rightly, banned for several games.
Rangers numerical advantage quickly began to show with the visitors creating a number of chances. James Tavernier’s cross on 70 minutes was begging for someone to poke it beyond MacDonald but the lunging Harry Forrester couldn’t quite reach.
Tavernier almost scored a second free-kick when, on 76 minutes, his strike was well saved by MacDonald. Another great free-kick from the full-back, MacDonald dove well to pull off a great stop to his right and palm the ball to safety.
As the minutes ticked away Warburton’s side kept picking away at the Kilmarnock defence but couldn’t get past. Halliday, Kranjcar and McKay all with opportunities that never really tested the Kilmarnock defence. Rangers had the hosts camped in their own half but, as has been the case so often this season so far, struggled to find a way through.
There was almost an 89th minute goal for Rangers after some lovely interplay on the edge of the area, McKay fired a low shot at MacDonald who got down well to save.
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, S. Smith, Hendrie, Boyle, Burn, Dicker, Frizzell (Adams 77’), Hawkshaw, Kiltie (Green 81’), Taylor, Boyd
Subs: Mackay, Jones, Bojaj, Coulibaly, Kayode,
Goals: Boyd 29’
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Hill, Kiernan, Wallace, Rossiter (Kranjcar 58’), Barton (Halliday 69’), Forrester, Dodoo (Garner 15’), McKay, Miller
Subs: Gilks, O'Halloran, Hodson
Goals: Tavernier 58’