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Rangers held on top-flight return

Ali Crawford (third right)

Rangers needed a Martyn Waghorn finish to secure a draw on their return to the Scottish Premiership against an impressive Hamilton side.

The sense of anticipation at Ibrox was evident, but Ali Crawford's crisply executed strike altered expectations.

Harry Forrester's arrival as a substitute enlivened Rangers, and he created the equaliser with a glorious cross for Waghorn.

Rangers' frustration was exacerbated by Waghorn suffering a hamstring injury.

Hamilton though were rewarded for being typically robust and well-organised.

The Championship flag was unfurled before kick-off and Rangers' line-up only contained three new signings - Clint Hill, Joey Barton and Niko Kranjcar - as they looked to build on last season's sense of momentum.

They started as though there was four years worth of energy providing them with momentum. The attacking intent was evident as they sought to pin Hamilton back.

Elements of the play were familiar; the ball travelling through the thirds before the wide men moved infield to open up passing corridors around the 18 yard box.

The arrivals of Barton and Kranjcar provided an alternative route, though, and the latter swept a pass up field to Waghorn, but his fierce strike was pushed away by Hamilton goalkeeper Remi Matthews.

Continuity has been a strength of the visitors - like Rangers, they started with only three new signings, while 10 of the squad were youth academy graduates - and they trusted in their game plan. Having endured the opening spell, they began to establish their own ambition.

Crawford nutmegged Barton before seeing his shot deflected wide. It wasn't an isolated moment of aplomb, and when Hill's clearance landed at Crawford's feet, he turned Kranjcar and clipped a left-foot shot into the top corner.

Martyn Waghorn

With Rangers' play lacking crispness and high tempo, Hamilton settled into a sense of command. There was aggression to their play, too, and three of the back four were booked before half-time. It was the home side who needed to think about the vigour of their play, though.

Rangers were more dynamic after the break, with Waghorn curling wide from a good area and Hamilton defending desperately on occasion. It took the introduction of Harry Forrester to deliver the necessary deftness of touch to break the visitors down.

The midfielder was only off the bench for a matter of minutes when he sculpted a brilliant ball behind and across the Hamilton defence with the outside of his foot, and Waghorn coolly converted from close range.

Hamilton were not wholly subdued, and Donati's header from Crawford's free-kick demanded a diving save from Rangers goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.

Forrester, though, was an elusive and increasingly influential figure. After a swaying run, he drilled a low shot just wide, then from another of his crosses, the ball was cleared to Barton, whose shot was pushed away by Matthews.

Line-ups

Rangers

  • 1Foderingham
  • 2Tavernier
  • 4Kiernan
  • 3Hill
  • 5Wallace
  • 19Kranjcar