Shutting out rivals is key to winning title, says Wilson
Defender hopes can build another run of clean sheets, starting in Dumfries
BUILDING from the back has been the Rangers way since Mark Warburton implemented his Ibrox blueprint in the summer. Now it is the defensive line that is laying the foundations for a shot at the Championship title this term.
After sprinting out of the blocks and hitting the goal trail in the opening months of the campaign, Rangers have recently found the going tougher in the final third of the pitch. It has been their ability to keep clean sheets rather than outscore teams comfortably that has helped edge them closer to the top flight in recent few weeks.
Rangers have drawn 1-1 at Alloa and beaten Kilmarnock 2-1 on their two outings on plastic pitches in the last seven days and will take to a third synthetic surface when they face Queen of the South tomorrow.
“If you look at the last two games we’re disappointed because we’ve conceded a couple of goals but before that we [had] four clean sheets in a row, which is great,” Danny Wilson, the Rangers defender, said. “That comes from playing together more and striking up a partnership together. We do a lot of work on it and analyse our performances to see why we’ve conceded a goal or why we gave away a chance. But it’s been going well. We conceded two in two but, hopefully, on Sunday we can get back to keeping clean sheets because in recent weeks we’ve not scored as many as we had been doing.
“Previously the goals we’d conceded wouldn’t have mattered because we’d been scoring three, four or five. The pleasing things for us was we were keeping clean sheets and winning 1-0 in tight games. From now until the end of the season it’ll get more difficult and it’s important to keep clean sheets.
“Look at Alloa, it wasn’t the boys up front’s day and who knows if we’d kept a clean sheet we might have got a late goal and gone away with the three points but unfortunately we were unable to do that. Hopefully, going forward we can keep more clean sheets and have that solidity at the back to give the boys up front the platform to win us the game.”
Rangers will resume their Championship title challenge having taken a Premiership scalp in midweek as they booked their place in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals. It was third time lucky for Warburton’s side after losing to St Johnstone and then drawing with Kilmarnock at Ibrox earlier this month. Rangers are on course to clinch a top-flight return this term and Wilson is pleased with the progress they are making as they gear up for the remainder of the title race and look for Scottish Cup and Petrofac Training Cup success.
“A lot more was made of [the St Johnstone game] out with our dressing room, in terms of beating a team from the Premiership,” Wilson said. “The St Johnstone game, we were a little bit naïve defensively, although in spells we did play good football. If you look at the first game against Kilmarnock we had enough of the ball but we weren’t able to put it in the back of the net.
“If you look at the other night we played well again, we controlled the game. I feel if we played against most teams in the top flight we’d have a lot of control of the game. The important thing is to get the wins. Had we won against St Johnstone earlier in the season people probably wouldn’t have even given it a thought but because that defeat was there the doubt was in people’s minds. But never in ours. We know what we are as a team and we can, hopefully, get better.
“We had a good win the other night and going into the further rounds of the competition, hopefully, we’ll have more Premiership teams to play against. And, hopefully, prove we are on the right track and in the league continue to do what we’re doing, so that next year it can be the norm.”
Rangers’ fortunes have been mixed on the plastic pitches at the Indodrill Stadium and Rugby Park as the controversial surfaces have once again hit the headlines. Wilson’s defensive partner Rob Kiernan last week called for the parks to be banned in Scottish football and Rangers are counting the cost of an injury to Martyn Waghorn.
The former Hearts captain reckons there is little chance of a blanket ban ever being enforced in our game, but he is far from a fan of the surfaces as Rangers look to avoid a second tier slip in Dumfries tomorrow afternoon.
“When you go in for slide tackles, you come off and your legs are a mess,” he said. “Mine are in a mess from the other night and I’d only just got over one from the Falkirk game a couple of months ago and it has opened up again. But we know what we’re facing when we go on them and we just have to get on with it.”
SHUT DOWN: Danny Wilson is hoping Rangers can return to their miserly ways on Queen of the South’s synthetic pitch.