Giovanni van Bronckhorst says “we have to see” about his Rangers future after a third slip-up in five league games for his side at St Mirren.
Jonah Ayunga punished slackness from the visitors in Paisley but Marcus Fraser’s challenge on Ryan Kent eventually resulted in a penalty following a VAR review, and James Tavernier equalised from 12 yards.
And, with Celtic later extending their Scottish Premiership lead to nine points, Van Bronckhorst admitted it was “not good enough” from his team.
Asked if he expected to be given time to turn things around, Van Bronckhorst replied: “We have to see, it’s still football and if you have a run like this, a lot of things can happen but I have the backing of the board. They gave me confidence but in football, you never know.”
Rangers resume after the World Cup break in mid-December, with January the Dutchman’s next opportunity to change his squad.
“We have the squad as it is now,” he said. “We need to continue with the squad when we continue after the break. This is the squad we work on and every window you see if you can make changes in the squad to become stronger.”
Malik Tillman, Rangers’ match winner against Hearts on Wednesday, nutmegged Fraser and fired narrowly wide before Alfredo Morelos swept a shot off target from the edge of the St Mirren box in the early stages.
Scott Wright was next to threaten the hosts’ goal, his back-post header on the right kept out by the leg of goalkeeper Trevor Carson. Wright then evaded two challenges before dragging a shot wide.
A feature of recent Rangers matches has been goals conceded against the run of play, and it seemed inevitable St Mirren would punish the Ibrox side when Greg Kiltie got clear on the right to cross but there were no takers in a crowded area.
But the home side did not have to wait too much longer as Ayunga pounced in the 47th minute.
Declan Gallagher’s long throw-in was flicked on by Curtis Main’s head and Ayunga’s initial shot forced a fine Allan McGregor save, but the forward was able to strike home after Leon King was unable to clear.
King then took a head knock in a challenge with Main and the youngster was taken off on a stretcher, to be replaced by Ryan Jack. Van Bronckhorst later said King was “okay”.
A lethargy set in to Rangers’ play, while St Mirren were vibrant whenever they sensed a chance to break at pace. Tavernier headed wide of Carson’s goal before another Ayunga shot skimmed just wide at the other end.
By recent standards, the influence of VAR had been rather absent until Kent hit the deck following Fraser’s tackle.
The winger was initially booked for simulation by referee Kevin Clancy, but a review of the challenge just inside the penalty box on the left-hand side reversed that decision and gave Tavernier the chance to level from the penalty spot. Carson guessed correctly and got a hand to the shot, but could not prevent it from finding the net.
The lengthy delays brought about by King’s injury and the penalty review resulted in nine minutes of stoppage time, during which Kent forced a fine save by Carson and Jack headed straight at the goalkeeper from a corner.
Player of the match – Jonah Ayunga
Familiar frailties cost Rangers once again
In the absence of Connor Goldson and Ben Davies, Rangers lined up with youngster King and midfielder James Sands in central defence.
The makeshift partnership coped well enough in the first half but were badly caught out at the goal.
But Rangers’ failure was not entirely defensive, with the midfield and attack only fleetingly carving open the Buddies’ back line.
Van Bronckhorst has gone in to recent games without a clutch of first-team regulars and top scorer Antonio Colak was unavailable for the trip to Paisley. But, even with that backdrop, the stats do not look good for the Dutchman with 12 points dropped from 15 league games – three more than Celtic have dropped in the whole of 2022.
St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson had spoken pre-match about his desire to capitalise on the “physicality” of his front two.
The hosts were unable to do that in the first half, despite a raft of set plays, but they only needed one chance in the end and Ayunga was only too willing to be in the right place at the right time.
The post-match headlines will be dominated by Rangers’ failings but St Mirren’s pre-World Cup form deserves particular mention with six wins and three draws from 15 putting them on course for a top-six finish.
What they said
St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson: “Very proud of the boys. When you come off a game against Rangers and you’re disappointed not to have all three points, it probably shows a level of performance.
“I thought we were excellent first half. Second half, we scored then sat back a little bit too much but you’re going to face that kind of quality. I’m not arguing. It was a penalty.”
Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: “We started well, created chances. One big chance with Scott Wright. It’s always difficult against a deep block.
“We have to be more ruthless in our box to clear dangerous moments. It’s too many points. If you lose points at home against Livingston and away against St Johnstone and St Mirren, it’s not good enough.”
- 23StrainBooked at 66minsSubstituted forGogicat 90+4′minutes
- 11KiltieSubstituted forBaccusat 78′minutes
- 7AyungaSubstituted forGreiveat 79′minutes
- 10MainBooked at 90mins
- 38KingSubstituted forJackat 59′minutes
- 31BarisicSubstituted forUreat 90+4′minutes
- 18KamaraSubstituted forArfieldat 45′minutes
- 20MorelosBooked at 46mins
- Kevin Clancy
Match ends, St. Mirren 1, Rangers 1.
Second Half ends, St. Mirren 1, Rangers 1.
Attempt saved. Ryan Jack (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Tavernier with a cross.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Charles Dunne.
Attempt blocked. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Ryan Kent (Rangers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alfredo Morelos.
Attempt blocked. Alfredo Morelos (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Curtis Main (St. Mirren) is shown the yellow card.
Offside, St. Mirren. Scott Tanser tries a through ball, but Curtis Main is caught offside.
Hand ball by Keanu Baccus (St. Mirren).
Substitution, Rangers. Robbie Ure replaces Borna Barisic.
Substitution, St. Mirren. Alexandros Gogic replaces Ryan Strain.
Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Marcus Fraser.
Attempt blocked. Scott Arfield (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Kent.
Malik Tillman (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Keanu Baccus (St. Mirren).
James Sands (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alex Greive (St. Mirren).
Attempt missed. Keanu Baccus (St. Mirren) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Marcus Fraser with a cross.
Offside, Rangers. James Tavernier tries a through ball, but Alfredo Morelos is caught offside.