Rangers won their first match after a miserable run of five straight draws at Easter Road, showing early signs of improvement against Hibernian.
The victory also marked Stuart McCall’s first success since taking the reins, and it was the new Rangers manager’s decision to change formation that helped the Gers to a pivotal victory. They now sit just three points off Hibernian in second place with a game in hand, and consistent victories will start to put pressure on their Edinburgh-based rivals.
The 2-0 win sees Hearts win the Scottish Championship, but McCall will now be focused on fine tuning the system that has seen his team subject Alan Stubbs’ Hibernian to their first defeat in 15 matches.
Speaking after the game to Sky Sports, Lee Wallace, explained how the improved performance owed much to McCall’s preparation and decision to change to a 3-5-2.
“Pretty much everyone watching the game and at the game wouldn’t have held much hope for us, but we’ve prepared really well for it and we knew the task ahead,” said Wallace.
“I thought the boys were phenomenal, every single man. Be it the guys that didn’t quite make it or the guys that were in the stands, as a squad we were prepared and we went out and proved a lot of people wrong today.
“When they play the diamond they tend to dominate the middle of the park, I think we got men in there with our system, and we locked onto their key men and that allowed us to get it wide and go for it, and I think we did that.”
While Wallace put in a man-of-the-match performance, every Rangers player stepped up their game and looked like the side that most expect them to be, displaying the effort and desire that has been badly missed since the beginning of February.
The positives that McCall will take will include the performance of Wallace, but Kenny Miller scoring for the first time since November will be a massive confidence booster, as will the clean sheet for the Rangers defence and Cammy Bell.
Although it is still very early days in the Rangers revival, fans of the club now have a performance to hang their hopes on, while the win will provide the players with a much needed mental boost for any further games against Hibernian in the play-offs.
The impact of result will need to be carried through into the next game against Cowdenbeath, where a repeat performance will be needed to build consistency, or the efforts on show at Easter Road could go to waste.