Rangers continued their pre-season programme on Monday afternoon with a 1-1 draw against Welsh Premier League champions TNS. Although the majority of Rangers fans would probably have expected a victory and a more convincing performance overall, there were a few positive individual performances worth highlighting.
Fabio Cardoso continued with his positive start to life at the heart of the Rangers defence. Despite being left exposed by some poor play by Kenny Miller for the TNS equaliser, Cardoso was able dominate his opponents with relative ease throughout the 70 minutes he played. There were also a number of forward runs being made to good effect which was interesting to see. There's definitely a touch of the Bougherra's about this lad going forward, and he'll have to choose his moments carefully against better opposition.
Dalcio too played around 70 minutes, on the left flank, and was able to show a few bright flashes, especially when dribbling at full speed. When he was taking on defenders from a more stationary starting point, there were plenty of feints and step-overs being threatened, but very little danger for TNS defenders to worry about. It could be suggested that he could be compared to Nathan Oduwa at times in these positions. There's definitely skill and ability there from what we've seen so far, but he might not quite know how to implement it when it counts. Hopefully Pedro Caixinha can get the best out of him as the season progresses.
Ryan Jack put in another positively aggressive display and seems to work well alongside Jason Holt as a holding duo. With Jordan Rossiter also competing for a starting-slot in this position, it will be interesting to see who partners Jack next Thursday against Progrès Niederkorn. Rossiter too, put on a good display for the short time he was on the field after replacing Holt after 75 minutes.
Having just been revealed as the latest new signing earlier that day, Alfredo Morelos was able to make his first appearance in a Rangers jersey. There has been much anticipation building around this young Columbian goal-machine. He only had 20 minutes to work with, but Morelos was able to show a little of what we can expect from him. For his size, he appears to be very strong and easily holds the ball up against players with a height and size advantage. His link up play was positive, but unfortunately, he was never really able to be played into a clear goalscoring opportunity on this occasion. At first look though, there's a lot more to come from this young man.
As an added bonus, you'd hope that with Morelos on the books, Herrera set to follow and Ryan Hardie yet to go on loan, that's the last we'll see of Martyn Waghorn in the number 9 position for Rangers.
The lack of goalscoring opportunity was a frustrating factor for much of Rangers' overall play in this match. There was plenty of possession in all areas, but very little created in the final third. That said, TNS defended resolutely throughout and were probably quite happy with their performance. It is important to note that TNS are two weeks further along in their preparations than their hosts.
Ross McCrorie deserves a mention after making his first start for the first team following a successful loan spell at Dumbarton last season. The promising youngster didn't look out of place alongside Cardoso and if he isn't going to go on loan to a Premiership team this season, he looks like he'll make an adequate back-up to Alves and Cardoso.
Despite being a class above Coleraine, Niko Krancjar appeared quite off the pace against TNS. TNS defender Steven Saunders (ex-Motherwell) also made this point in the media afterwards, so hopefully Niko can take note of this and improve his sharpness in the next few weeks.
A final mention can go to Josh Windass. There were reports a few weeks ago that Windass was being flogged for peanuts to anyone who'd take him, but this story was rubbished by Windass Snr. on Twitter. Windass has certainly been working hard to create chances in both friendlies so far, so it'll be interesting to see if he can continue to build on this and make a much more positive contribution to the team than be did for the majority of last season.
Pedro Caixinha spoke enthusiastically about the performance after the game on Rangers TV. The managers stated that he believes his players are moving in the right direction with regards to their preparations for the 1st Round of the Europa League qualifiers.
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