Black warns Rangers they must improve

Rangers midfielder Ian Black has warned they need to improve their away performances quickly if they are to win the Irn-Bru Third Division.

Rangers followed draws at Peterhead and Berwick with a goalless encounter at Annan Saturday to drop to fourth in the league.

Elgin, who lost 6-1 at Ibrox, top the table and Black was unable to explain the disparities between their home displays and those on the road.

Once again, Rangers failed to impose themselves on the game for long spells.

Not until the final half hour did they put Annan under sustained pressure and even then they lacked creativity.

Home goalkeeper Alex Mitchell produced a stunning last-minute save from Lee McCulloch and twice blocked well from Francisco Sandaza, but home midfielder Jack Steele arguably had the best chance of the game when he shot wide from 15 yards amid some slack defending early in the second half.

Rangers boss Ally McCoist’s mood was further dampened by an injury to David Templeton, who was taken to hospital for scans after going over on his ankle on the artificial surface.

Black told his club’s official website: "We are just not starting well away from home. I don’t know what it is and we can’t seem to put our finger on it.

"It’s really disappointing to come to Annan and give that kind of performance for the manager and we need to improve on it.

"It’s difficult when you come to venues like this but we have to be good enough to deal with it.

"We have to stand up, be counted and win the battle because if we do that we are more than capable of getting the ball down and making passes and play teams off the park.

"However, in these away matches we don’t seem to be able to do and we have to get it sorted.

"We know that teams are going to try that bit harder when they play us and fair play to their keeper as he had a good game, but we had the chances to win the game.

"We have to get our finger out and improve quickly if we want to win this league.”

McCoist admitted his team lacked creativity and width, not helped by the early blow to Templeton and the foot injury that ruled out top goalscorer Andrew Little.

But he also stressed his respect for their opponents and reminded his players that four SPL teams had lost to SFL opposition in the second round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

Despite Rangers’ previous draws, the result still came as a shock to all those in the record crowd of 2,571 at Galabank on Saturday.

Annan were only granted admission to the league in 2008 but there was little between the teams in the first half in terms of chances and possession.

The home midfield made up for what they lacked in physical presence with hard work, determination and no little skill and the home defence produced a solid display.

Centre-back Steven Swinglehurst, who was released by Carlisle in the summer, summed up what the result meant.

He said: "As soon as we found out they would be in the same division as us, we never thought we would be drawing with them.

"They are a massive club with a massive fan base and this is a dream. It’s unbelievable for the club, the fans and the players. All we can do is take confidence from it.

"We were up against players like Lee McCulloch. He’s an unbelievable player, has played in the Premiership and is an international, and it shows.

"He’s clever and strong but it was a great performance by the lads to stop him and Rangers."