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Rangers held by 10-man Kilmarn...

Rangers held by 10-man Kilmarnock

James Tavernier’s superb free-kick brought Rangers level at Rugby Park

A stunning free-kick from James Tavernier earned Rangers a point against the 10 men of Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The home side had the better of the first-half and were rewarded with Kris Boyd’s superbly-taken opener.

Tavernier’s 25-yard free kick brought Rangers level after the break.

Greg Taylor saw red shortly after for a shocking challenge on Joey Barton, but Killie held firm in the face of intense late Rangers pressure to take a point.

Mark Warburton’s side move on to eight points at the top of the Premiership, two clear of Celtic and Ross County.

However, Brendan Rodgers team have played two games fewer and Jim McIntyre’s men have one game in hand.

Old dog, new tricks

Kilmarnock’s XI contained four teenagers and three more were 21 or under. Six of their bench were also no older than 21.

Lee Clark has gambled big-time on youth this season and they fought tenaciously, hustling and harrying and giving Rangers a dreadfully tough night.

It was the combination of youth and experience that got them their goal, the excellent Greg Kiltie – just 19 – scampering up the left away from Joey Barton before putting in a cross for Boyd to drill across Wes Foderingham. Boyd might be 33 – an old man among kids – but he’s still got it.

Kris Boyd (centre) is mobbed by his team-mates after opening the scoring against Rangers

Barton yet to make his mark

Barton was ineffective again, his main involvement being on the end of the terrible tackle that earned Killie teenager Taylor a red card just after the hour.

The Englishman was anonymous. Wasteful in possession, passive as a defensive midfielder and a non-event going forward. Eventually he was replaced by Niko Kranjcar. He walked to the bench, shaking his head as he went.

Rangers were level by then and it was deserved. Tavernier’s free-kick was long-range and magnificent.

It was interesting hearing his friend, the former Rangers player Peter Lovenkrands, talking on BBC Radio Scotland of Tavernier’s frustration at having lost free-kick taking duty to Barton this season. Tavernier has surely got his old job back again now.

Greg Taylor (left) was shown a straight red card for a reckless tackle on Joey Barton

Killie tough it out

As Rangers pressed hard and their supporters periodically screamed what is euphemistically called their ‘songbook’ – The Billy Boys and more were trotted out – Killie had to dig deep.

Rangers had a huge amount of ball. They forced saves from Jamie MacDonald; one from a second Tavernier free-kick, another from Barrie McKay and might have had a penalty, too.

Ultimately, they weren’t good enough. Against 10 men – or kids in many cases – they did not have the creativity to get the job done.

Clark knows now he has guts in his team. Warburton, meanwhile, might be wondering what his own players are made of after this.

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