SPL - McCoist's first match ends in draw

Sat, 23 Jul 14:31:00 2011

Ally McCoist's tenure as Rangers manager got off to an uncertain start as the SPL champions drew 1-1 with Hearts at Ibrox in the first game of the new season.

SPL - Rangers held by Hearts

The two teams were welcomed on to the pitch by a flag hoisted to commemorate Rangers' world record 54th national league title win last term, but their defence was dealt an immediate blow courtesy of David Obua's 16th-minute headed winner.

McCoist's first significant half-time team-talk must have worked to some extent because his players emerged after the break with renewed vigour and were rewarded with Steven Naismith's equaliser on 57 minutes.

Hearts boss Jim Jeffries showed his recently-installed contemporary just how hard this management lark can be as the visitors from Edinburgh had the better of their Glasgow hosts for the first half of this curtain raiser, but the Gers at least rallied sufficiently to salvage a point. Their Glasgow rivals Celtic have the chance to take an immediate advantage in this season's title race when they travel to Hibernian on Sunday.

Nikica Jelavic sent an acrobatic effort wide after five minutes when he took Steven Whittaker's diagonal ball nicely on his chest, but after that the real threat was all coming from Hearts.

The visitors were forced into an early change when former Rangers defender Andy Webster was replaced by Adrian Mrowlec after just nine minutes, but that did little to stop them gaining the upper hand.

David Templeton caused plenty of early problems as his cut in from the left flank, but it was from set pieces that Rangers looked at their most uncertain and Obua got his first goal in almost two years. The Ugandan lost marker Steven Whittaker with ease and rose to power a header past Allan McGregor with 16 minutes on the clock.

Hearts continued to press for a second, which they had chances to get. Templeton jinked into the box with a mazy run and saw his prodded effort blocked by McGregor, and then Obua lashed his effort high and wide when picked out at the far post.

The duel between new Rangers signing Juanma Ortiz and Hearts full-back Ryan McGowan was an intriguing one which the Australian defender won, and Hearts went into the break deservedly on top.

McCoist's players responded well from the restart, and they were unfortunate not to be draw level after a hectic spell early in the second half. Kirk Broadfoot's downward header was palmed away by Marian Kello, and the Slovakian keeper had barely drawn breath before he was called upon to parry Steven Davis's toe-poked shot and then saw Naismith fire over the bar.

Rangers did eventually force the leveller they deserved when Sasa Papac gambolled down the left after making a good tackle. The Bosnian full-back got his cross in at the second attempt and Naismith glanced a header past Kello.

Both sides had their chances to win - Obua had a half-volley well saved by McGregor and Papac couldn't finish off a one-two with Naismith with enough conviction - but a sharing of the points proved the right result.

Tony Mabert (@tony_mabert) / Eurosport

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