Glasgow Rangers coasted to a comfortable 4-0 win over Falkirk to qualify for the Betfred Cup quarter-finals.
Jermain Defoe opened the scoring for Rangers before Calvin Bassey bagged his first goal for the Light Blues, and Borna Barisic and James Tavernier added the extra bit of gloss to the scoreline.
Bassey may have received most of the plaudits but Jon McLaughlin spared his blushes after a miscued backpass could have gone horribly wrong had the goalkeeper not been alert to the danger.
Speaking to BBC Sportsound at the time, former Hearts and Rangers winger Neil McCann said: “Conor Sammon just kicked a bottle of water away in frustration. Rangers were late back on to the pitch and I think Calvin Bassey’s concentration was still in the dressing-room.”
McLaughlin admitted that he is desperate to play to improve his chances of being selected for the Scotland national team for Euro 2020.
The Scottish international – who has earned two caps for his country so far – made 90 appearances for Sunderland, conceding 87 goals and keeping 27 clean sheets in all competitions.
Former Black Cats boss Jack Ross was effusive in his praise for his former charge, as he once said: “I’m obviously biased and there might be other managers that say it, but I believe I have the best goalkeeper in the league.
He was outstanding for me last season, he is such a low-maintenance player in terms of how he goes about his business and he is unflappable.”
So, how did he end up in Glasgow?
Well, after a solid season with Sunderland where he kept 11 clean sheets in 32 games in the English League One, Steven Gerrard and Ross Wilson brought the former Hearts keeper to Ibrox on a two-year deal.
Not that he’d like to admit it, but there’s no doubt Gerrard will have been secretly pleased to see his second-choice stopper step up in Allan McGregor’s absence.
Whilst McLaughlin was initially signed to challenge McGregor for a starting place, he has found his chances hard to come by, having spent three out of the past five fixtures as an unused substitute on the bench.
But the 33-year-old denied Falkirk midfielder Blair Alston several times on Sunday evening to ensure the Gers kept their first clean sheet since the 4-0 victory over Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership after they conceded two late goals against Benfica in the Europa League.
Glasgow Live gave him a high grade of 7 out of ten for his efforts, claiming he ‘made a couple of good saves and showed his skill on the ground with a neat trick in the first half.’
Gerrard was full of praise after his arrival at the Govan stadium, saying: “Jon is a vastly experienced professional who will add strength and depth to our squad. His experience in the SPFL will stand by him as he continues to fight for a place in the Scotland squad.”
With his predecessors Wes Foderingham and Jak Alnwick having left the club in the summer, McLaughlin is clearly making up for lost time, as it’s fair to say that he has turned out to be an absolute bargain, especially when you consider the fact that he joined the club as a free agent.
AND in other news, Glasgow Rangers defender Leon Balogun can shine in Filip Helander’s absence…
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