If any area of the pitch has visibly demonstrated the need for evolution in recent weeks at Rangers, it’s the left-hand side.

On Sunday, Ridvan Yilmaz and Rabbi Matondo were handed their chance in place of Borna Barisic and Ryan Kent. Alongside Ianis Hagi at No.10 and Robby McCrorie in goals, Michael Beale’s team was refreshed, with a summer rebuild firmly on the agenda.

The 1-0 win over Aberdeen featured some encouraging signs that Matondo and Ridvan can be part of that process, even if their level of prominence still requires a level of convincing.

Both arrived for a significant outlay of the budget last summer. Ridvan was seen as Barisic’s successor but a serious hamstring injury has derailed his season, having initially struggled for minutes.

Matondo too has spent a sizeable period of time out injured and although handed more minutes by Giovanni van Bronckhorst last year, the winger couldn’t solidify his place on the right, appearing a far more natural fit on the left.

Sunday's pass network, charting the average passing position of each player, shows that Fashion Sakala and Matondo operated as split strikers with Ianis Hagi the most advanced member in midfield. Ridvan was slightly narrower than James Tavernier.

As discussed in greater detail here, Beale’s opted for a box midfield and split striker system in recent months.

Why? It’s likely partly influenced by personnel with a midfield suited to narrow positions and forward line lacking a No.9 to stack up the necessary numbers in front of goal. Furthermore, a large part of the task domestically is moving the ball to move the opposition - overloads in midfield and wide movement up top can achieve that.

On Sunday, Matondo drifted left throughout, trying to isolate himself against Matthew Pollock.

This overall split striker tactic seems to be focused on pulling the opposition defence out of position. In an attempt to create exploitable gaps, highlighted below, between the centre-backs for midfield runners to arrive into.

It's something Todd Cantwell's opener against St Mirren recently demonstrated perfectly. 

Matondo, who’s endured a difficult season, also provided the game’s best chances.

READ MORE: 'Crossing is dead' - Why Ridvan Yilmaz inclusion can solve Rangers' left-side problems

In the first half, he twice found the run of Fashion Sakala after drifting infield and receiving the ball to feet.

And at the start of the second half after reaching the byline, the Welshman’s ball across the face was deflected onto the bar.

Off the ball, he made 18 pressures, the most of any player in blue. Intensity out of possession is a key component of Beale’s footballing philosophy and that could work in Matondo's favour going forwards.

Some of the rotations he performed alongside Hagi and Ridvan also caught the eye. Matondo often made these inside-to-out movements with Ridvan rotating infield.

Sometimes, Rangers just lacked the necessary penetrative runs to capitalise on the highlighted space created when the winger moved wide left.

All throughout the lack of a finisher on show was obvious, something that has been an open secret all season.

Hagi did occasionally access this space, with the Romanian and Matondo unable to exploit the gap created after Pollock was dragged wide in this instance.

In this example soon after, notice Matondo is pointing at Hagi as he pulls Pollock wide again, while Ridvan moves forward with the ball. 

Hagi is fouled but Ridvan still made an effective inverted run, again targeting that space between the centre-backs created by Matondo’s movement.

Hagi, making his first league start since January of last year, had some good moments on the ball. He lacks the pace to exploit the gaps created on Sunday but was often found in central pockets by his teammates. After a long time out of the side, it was a further step in the right direction.

Ridvan, meanwhile, impressed on what was only his fourth league start since arriving from Turkey last summer.

The 21-year-old is less crosser and more combiner on the left, happy to move infield and drive forward with the ball. Off the ball he also stood his ground, winning nine of a possible 12 duels.

READ MORE: Ianis Hagi on Rangers absence, injury return and living to win

Notice the cluster of activity in his pass map infield on the edge of the final third. Although the majority of his deliveries in the box were unsuccessful (yellow) the left-back is more likely to cut the ball back than swing a cross in with pace from deep.

Here, after picking the ball up, the defender is able to make up significant ground centrally and eventually find the feet of Sakala.

And in this example, as he gets the ball by the left touchline, notice the striker ahead of him, this time Sakala, again making that inside-to-out movement to create the necessary space for his side to attack.

Rangers Review:

Reflecting on Sunday’s game, two of Beale’s phrases stood out. “Sometimes I feel like we’re the most wasteful team in the world,” he said before adding “most of our problems are not between the two boxes”.

He knows, and the evidence shows, that Rangers won’t get far under his or anyone else’s management without difference-makers in either box. And, to that end, Robby McCrorie had a positive afternoon, making a big stop when the game was tied 0-0.

Matondo and Ridvan will need to do more to convince the Ibrox support they’re the future.

However, Sunday’s tactical set-up and their individual performances on the left showed again that there’s plenty of good work done outside the final third at Rangers – the trick remains to find those capable of converting the attacking moments created.