Rangers 1 Stranraer 1 – Scottish League One – 26th December 2013
Rangers started the 2013/14 season looking like a side that meant business. In many ways, they were the side that people had expected them to be in their predicted jaunt through the lower leagues.
Perhaps, having learned from the previous season, they signed players with experience in Scottish football. Cammy Bell, Jon Daly and Nicky Law joined from top flight sides. Nicky Clark, having scored for fun with Queen of the South in the same division the year before looked like a great signing on paper.
They won their first 15 games, scoring goals for fun. They had only failed to score three or more goals in two out of those 15 games. They looked unstoppable.
Meanwhile, quietly going about their business were Stevie Aitken’s Stranraer. Many people’s tip to be relegated, they had defied their critics and were sitting third in the league before their Boxing Day trip to Ibrox.
They had been on a run which had seen them win seven of their last eight games, having also knocked Ross County out of the League Cup and given Hibs an almighty scare. Stranraer’s players had some belief going in to the match, according to striker Jamie Longworth. “We were on a really really good run leading up to the match, we thought, ‘do you know what, they may have an off day, we might just sneak something’. We probably weren’t expecting to get something, but based on the form we were in it was maybe a good time to be going there.”
That belief perhaps appeared misplaced, when the home side were given a penalty not long before half time. At that point, they could have been forgiven for capitulating, and going on to lose heavily. Most teams had at Ibrox that season.
However, Stranraer held on until the bitter end. Longworth remembers it was a grueling 90 minutes. The Blues had a fixture scheduled for the following Tuesday, which would eventually be called off. Exhausted after their Ibrox exploits, Longworth describes that as a “lucky escape.”
With their last attack, they burst forward. A textbook counter attacking move saw the ball with Andrew Stirling, who picked out Jamie Longworth with a low pass at the back post. “I initially started to make a run out wide, and I noticed Andy Stirling had went there and I thought well if there’s anyone who you want the ball with it’s him. I started moving away and David McKenna made a really good run to the front post and I just seemed to get a bit of space.
“I’m not quite sure what I was doing. The ball came to me, and for some reason rather than trying to shoot first time I’ve took a touch which looking back was quite crazy. I think I’ve panicked more than anything else.
“I think I took a touch just to compose myself. I’d love to say it was composure but it was probably just lunacy more than anything else.”
The striker lifted it over the Rangers keeper, and bedlam followed. “I remember very little of it. I think the next thought after the ball comes to me is waking up in the pile up in the corner in front of the Stranraer fans. I’m not really too sure what happened next, to be honest, and then I think before you knew it the game was over anyway.”