On a day when their fans’ ongoing protests against the scheduled November friendly match against Celtic in Sydney saw play delayed on three occasions by the throwing of toilet rolls and tennis balls onto the pitch, the Scottish champions were staring down the barrel of a massive setback as they trailed to Christie Elliott’s sixth minute goal.
But a second half shake-up by manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst saw Rangers salvage the situation as Aaron Ramsey equalized with his first goal for the club before Connor Goldson grabbed an 86th minute winner to close the gap on leaders Celtic at the top of the table to three points eleven more.
The tone for a disjointed performance from Rangers was set by their supporters’ disruption of the opening stages of the contest.
Unable to establish any early rhythm, the visitors were caught cold by Dundee’s early breakthrough which came from a quickly taken throw-in on their left flank.
With Rangers slow to react, Zak Rudden worked the ball to Jordan Marshall who was able to fly in an inviting cross towards the far post despite the close attention of Ramsey.
It was a mismatch in the air between Ryan Kent and Elliott as the Dundee man rose to force home a header from close range.
The dry and rutted pitch did little to accommodate Rangers’ efforts to get their passing game going, although they were also undermined too often by their own uncertainty in possession.
Chances were few and far between – Alfredo Morelos guided a header wide from Calvin Bassey’s cross before Goldson flashed a shot not too far off target.
Rangers were handed a chance to level from the penalty spot in the 41st minute. It was a charitable award from Bobby Madden as Morelos went down under the flimsiest of touches from Jordan McGhee.
Dundee were certainly entitled to feel justice was done when Tavernier’s recent run of emphatic finishes from 12 yards came to an end as he blazed the ball over the crossbar.
Van Bronckhorst couldn’t afford to hang around as his team’s title prospects ebbed away and he made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Joe Aribo and Fashion Sakala replacing Filip Helander and Scott Arfield, while John Lundstram dropped into central defense.
Rangers clearly needed more urgency in their play and weren’t helped in that regard by another volley of toilet rolls into the goalmouth by their fans to force another brief stoppage immediately after the restart.
But they gradually moved through the gears and started to put sustained pressure on the Dundee defense with Kemar Roofe adding further attacking impetus as he replaced James Sands.
The equalizer came in the 64th minute, Ramsey tapping in from close range after Roofe’s header from a Tavernier cross was parried into his path.
A point wasn’t really enough for Rangers, however, and they were rewarded for an improved second half display when, after a Roofe shot was blocked, Goldson slammed the ball home to secure all three.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.