Ibra Sekajja made it two goals in two games as Livi produced an outstanding performance to leave Ibrox with a point that was the very least they deserved for their efforts.
After their battling display in Wednesday’s heartbreaking defeat at Easter Road, Lions boss Mark Burchill made just the one change as he brought in Danny Mullen for Michael McKenna and he partnered Sekajja up front in a 5-3-2 formation.
With Stuart McCall in charge of Rangers for the first time, the home side were unsurprisingly quick out of the traps and Kyle Jacobs had to be alert to deny Nicky Clark a clear shot at goal from just inside the penalty box. It was only a brief let off though as Rangers took the lead with their next attack. Haris Vuckic rounded off a slick team move that had started with keeper Lee Robinson as he picked up a pass from Nicky Law, cut in on to his left foot and placed a smart finish past Darren Jamieson to make it 1-0.
After threatening to be overrun in the early stages, Livi put a foot on the ball and started to build up some decent possession. Their confidence visibly grew in doing so and Craig Sives and Darren Cole, the onetime Rangers starlet, linked up well for the latter to send a ball through for Sekajja but Robinson was out smartly to collect. Youngster Tom Walsh was impressing for Rangers down the wing and he sent a dangerous low ball into the box towards Kenny Miller but Jason Talbot was quickly across to clear. Walsh then created a chance of his own but, after finding himself free at the back post, he dragged his shot wide of the post.
Livi were starting to enjoy some decent pressure as Rangers’ fragile confidence was being severely tested and Sekajja got in behind the Gers defence and fired in a low shot that Robinson did well to parry. Mullen then tried his luck from distance with an effort that comfortably cleared Robinson’s crossbar.
It was suddenly all Livi and Keaghan Jacobs easily beat Lee Wallace down the right and cut the ball back for Scott Pittman but his effort was tame and it trundled wide. There appeared to be a deflection but ref Andrew Dallas pointed for a goal kick. Rangers were still getting forward, though not nearly as regularly, and Wallace set up a chance for Walsh but his shot was scuffed and Jamieson saved easily. Livi were quickly back up at the other end and Mullen tried to send a cross in for Keaghan but there was too much on it and it rolled out for a goal kick.
A really good chance was passed up by Livi as Mullen and Sekajja found themselves two on one with Rangers’ Darren McGregor but Mullen tried to go alone rather than feed Sekajja and the chance was gone. Keaghan then drove at the home defence and let fly with a decent left footed effort but it didn’t really trouble Robinson. Up the other end, Wallace worked himself into a decent crossing position but his ball in was too high for Vuckic and sailed harmlessly out. Livi were nearly architects of their own downfall as Sives tried to chest the ball back to Jamieson but got too much on it and the Lions keeper had to scramble back to keep it out. Walsh then had another chance at the back post and, although he got much better contact on his effort, it flew narrowly over the bar.
Livi were well in the game but too often their final ball was letting them down but they got one right to glorious effect right on half-time as a spell of concerted pressure ended with Mullen flicking a header against the post from Pittman’s cross and Sekajja was quickest to react and tap the ball home to spark wild celebrations from the travelling support. Sekajja’s acrobatics were almost his undoing as a heavy landing left him nursing a leg injury that had the Livi fans wondering if he would be able to see out the match.
The teams headed in at the break all-square but Livi, with Sekajja still out there, were definitely the team in the ascendancy as the second half got underway. The Lions really should have gone in front on 52 minutes as Keaghan played in Mullen and he drove in on goal before placing a shot agonisingly wide of the far post. Rangers were then forced into their first change as Sebastien Faure was forced off injured and replaced by Marius Zaliukas.
Rangers were fighting to regain control of the game and Miller sent a wicked ball across goal but there were no takers and the ball rolled harmlessly out. Talbot then led a Livi charge up the other end and sent a devilish ball in but Fordyce was stretching as he met it and it sailed harmlessly into the Broomloan Stand. The home side thought they’d regained the lead when Clark nodded home a rebound but the linesman adjudged him to have been offside. Nicky Law then sent in a decent corner which Lee McCulloch met but could only head over.
Livi then made their first change of the match as Myles Hippolyte took the place of Mullen. He was quickly involved and looked set to convert a tremendous cross from Fordyce only for Robinson to pluck it out of the air just ahead of the Englishman. David Templeton then took the field in place of Rangers goalscorer Vuckic.
Livi were still enjoying good pressure and Kyle Jacobs tried a curling effort from just outside the box but there wasn’t quite enough elevation to beat Robinson. The Lions had Jamieson to thank for keeping them on terms, though, as he produced a quite stupendous save (think David Seaman for Arsenal vs Sheffield United – Google it!) to somehow stretch back and claw a header from Miller off the line when it seemed a certain goal. That chance seemed to galvanise Rangers and they ramped up the pressure in search of a winner, though they didn’t fashion many genuine chances in doing so.
Both sides made their next changes, Kris Boyd replacing Miller in Rangers’ final switch and Jordan White replacing goal hero Sekajja for the Lions. White was almost instantly involved as he latched on to a long ball and nodded it goalwards, only for a combination of Robinson and Zaliukas to scramble it clear. Kyle Jacobs then sent an audacious effort high over the bar. Rangers responded with a couple of quickfire corners, the second of which ended with Walsh whipping in a tasty cross which Boyd met but could only glance wide.
That proved the final action of note as Livi claimed a tremendous point that, if anything, was less than they deserved for their magnificent efforts. The rousing celebrations at full time were a joy to watch as the players showed they were still more than up for the fight as the battle against relegation continues. Next up for the Lions is a crucial double header against Dumbarton at home and Alloa away before next month’s Petrofac Training Cup Final against the Wasps at McDiarmid Park.