Rangers gave themselves some much-needed respite with a 3-0 cinch Premiership win over 10-man St Mirren in Paisley.
Former Gers midfielder Steven Davis began his spell as caretaker manager with an embarrassing 2-1 Europa League defeat against Aris Limassol in Cyprus on Thursday night and there was a sense of foreboding about the trip to the SMiSA stadium.
Some Rangers fans unravelled banners early in the game which read ‘heartless passionless leaderless; not fit to wear our colours’ before skipper James Tavernier scored from the spot in the 29th minute after Saints’ Ryan Strain was handed a red card by referee Nick Walsh for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Attacker Abdallah Sima added a second in the 70th minute for his seventh goal of the season before Tavernier smashed in a third in the 90th minute as the Light Blues leapfrogged Stephen Robinson’s side into second place, seven points behind leaders Celtic but the prospects of a genuine title race is another thing altogether.
Rangers will appoint a new boss during the international break and the Ibrox club clearly need fresh ideas, strategy and motivation going forward.
The only radical change Davis made to the team was to give a first senior start to 17-year-old attacker Zak Lovelace – he would go off injured in the first half – with John Souttar, Jose Cifuentes and Kemar Roofe also coming into a fragile Ibrox outfit.
Defender Richard Taylor and striker Toyosi Olusanya were reinstated into the Buddies side who clearly fancied their chances but there was little between the teams in the opening exchanges.
In the 21st minute St Mirren defender Scott Tanser, who signed a new deal until 2026 on Saturday, found himself alone at the back post from a Conor McMenamin free-kick but blasted his shot over the bar.
Rangers, however, would soon take the lead.
Lovelace found space on the right and blasted the ball across goal with Strain appearing to knock it away from in-rushing Sima with his hand.
After a long VAR check, referee Walsh checked his pitch-side monitor, sent off the St Mirren player and awarded a penalty to the visitors which Tavernier converted to the ire of the home supporters.
In the 34th minute Goldson met a Borna Barisic corner with his head but Buddies keeper Zach Hemming acrobatically tipped the effort over the bar and the home side ultimately escaped.
In the 41st minute Lovelace limped off the field and was eventually taken away from the sidelines on a stretcher, after being replaced by Ross McCausland.
In added time, the 20-year-old knocked a Barisic pass down to Nico Raskin inside the St Mirren box but the midfielder’s goal-bound drive was blocked by Hemming for a corner, which came to nothing.
There was no immediate improvement from Rangers in the second half and striker Cyriel Dessers replaced the anonymous Roofe on the hour-mark, while Saints soon brought on Mikael Mandron, Alex Greive and Caolan Boyd-Munce.
Rangers doubled their lead in the 70th minute with an unusually swift break, Tavernier sending Raskin scampering through the middle with a first time pass and he squared for Sima, on loan from Brighton, to beat Hemming from close range.
St Mirren were on their way to the first league defeat of the season.
Dessers ran clean through in the 86th minute only to have his unconvincing drive saved by Hemming but there was time for Tavernier to thrash in a second from the edge of the box, after his first effort was blocked, a fine goal out of keeping with the most of the game.
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