Date: 29th July 2008 at 10:53pm
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Rangers go down to a single goal at Rugby Park despite a spirited performance which saw the R`s create many chances in Ayrshire.

A single headed goal from Manuel Pascali was enough to defeat the R`s on the day, and it brings the curtain down on a thoroughly miserable tour of Scotland in which Rangers have lost twice conceding three goals without reply.

Rangers couldn`t break the deadlock at Rugby Park with a succession of close chances, but that killer instinct evaded them for the second game in succession.


Rangers made five changes for their second game in Scotland, with Lee Camp, Matthew Connolly, Martin Rowlands, Dexter Blackstock and Hogan Ephraim making way for debutant Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Mikele Leigertwood, Angelo Balanta and Gareth Ainsworth.

There was also a surprise inclusion in prospective signing Kaspars Gorkss. The R`s received permission from Blackpool to play the defender at the very last moment, as the defender wasn`t included on the initial team-sheet.

Kick Off – Kilmarnock v Queens Park Rangers

The Scottish outfit started the sharper as ex-Swindon Town player, Danny Invincibile tried his luck from distance. His speculative drive was well blocked by Gareth Ainsworth, a player who doesn`t seem to understand the concept of friendly, giving 110% once more.

Rangers lack of killer instinct was highlighted early on, as when tricky winger Emmanuel Ledesma set striker Patrick Agyemang in the clear, he wasn`t able to call upon his goal scoring exploits of last season, instead shooting straight at goalkeeper Damien Rascle.

Rascle was on hand to thwart Rangers once more when he not only stopped Angelo Balanta in his direct running, but also tipped Fitz Hall`s subsequent volley over the bar. Rangers were up against a stopper in truly inspired form.

Midfield general Gavin Mahon ran the midfield engine room alongside Mikele Leigertwood, and his was his pass that led to a chance for Emmanuel Ledesma, but the Argentinean shot disappointingly wide of Rascle`s left hand upright.

Craig Bryson formerly of Clyde finally registered a chance of note for the hosts, as he shot from 25 yards straight into the arms of debutante and former Tottenham and Slavia Prague custodian, Radek Cerny. The hosts chances were few and far between as the R`s laid siege to the opposition goal, Jim Jefferies side were struggling to cope with the R`s guile and flair as more chances followed.

Yet more good interplay from player/coach Gareth Ainsworth and young Colombian Angelo Balanta led to another opportunity for Rangers, it was eventually thwarted by keeper Rascle once more as Balanta attempted to dink the ball over the onrushing keeper.

But once again as is becoming a common theme of recent times, for all of Rangers attacking exploits, the weaknesses at the back are available for all to see, and didn`t Killie just do that.

After managing to muster a rare corner, Morrocan Mehdi Taouil floated the ball in, where trialist Manuel Pascali was waiting, before heading home unmarked past forlorn stopper Cerny. Pascali, who is registered to Parma has come to Scotland seeking a club, and comes recommended by Hearts midfielder Stefano Salvatori. He put the knife into Rangers, as Kilmarnock fans could hardly believe their luck.

Kilmarnock 1-0 Queens Park Rangers

Rangers weren`t showing any signs of disappointment however and set about their task to reduce the arrears. Ghanaian international Patrick Agyemang had his shot cleared off the line after a swashbuckling run through the middle by Fitz Hall, which became a trademark of his time at Oldham.

The onslaught continued as Angelo Balanta once again conspired to miss, after good work getting hold of the ball of a defence that will certainly struggle in the coming SPL season. His shot was once again tipped away by Rascle as it seemed destined for the bottom corner.

A good chance for Emmanuel Ledesma towards the end of the half as his viscous volley dipped narrowly over the bar.

Half Time – Kilmarnock v Queens Park Rangers

And then it was the moment that all Rangers fans, and indeed some Blackpool fans have been waiting for, Kaspars Gorkss came onto the pitch to the adulation and confusion of the 134 away faithful who hadn`t heard his name called out on the initial team-sheet. He replaced Fitz Hall who was doing his best to patch up a leaking defence.

Killie were first to threaten again after the break as 21 year old Irishman Connor Sammon forced Cerny into a good stop from just outside the area. The R`s possession football was a joy to behold at times, however once again that killer instinct evaded the R`s and they`ll wonder how they didn`t draw level midway through the second half. Ledesma sent in a rasping free kick from the left flank, and amongst the awaiting pack in the box was debutante Gorkss, who could get anything on the ball from close range.

Adam Bolder entered into the fray in place of the returning Mikele Leigertwood as Dowie looks to assess his midfield prior to Saturday`s friendly against Chievo. Dowie already indicating that the side that faces The Flying Donkeys will be as close as possible to the side that he puts out against Barnsley on August 9th.

Ramage had previously linked up well with Di Carmine against Northampton, and he displayed his ability to deliver the cross when he picked out Angelo Balanta beautifully from the right flank, but once again the young Colombian couldn`t hit the target as he was growing visibly frustrated.

Midfielders Simon Walton and Matteo Alberti were introduced into the fray with the influential Gavin Mahon and the combative Gareth Ainsworth making way.

This was shortly followed with Emmanuel Ledesma`s withdrawal from proceedings, being replaced by young prodigy Romone Rose, who hit the back of the net in his last outing with Rangers at Stevenage.

It wasn`t enough for the R`s as they simply ran out of steam in the latter stages of the game, Damien Delaney`s half chance was all they could muster at the death as Rangers through everything but the kitchen sink at their Ayrshire opponents.

Rangers: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Gavin Mahon, (Simon Walton 76), Fitz Hall, (Kaspars Gorkss 46), Damion Stewart, Gareth Ainsworth, (Matteo Alberti 78), Mikele Leigertwood, (Adam Bolder 62), Patrick Agyemang, Angelo Balanta, Emmanuel Jorge Ledesma, (Romone Rose 82).

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