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Saturday, 18 August 2012 16:50

Rangers 5-1 East Stirlingshire

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REGARDLESS of what happened on the pitch, this was always going to be an historic day for Rangers.

Hosting their first ever Third Division match at Ibrox was a record that few Light Blues fans could have envisaged their side setting 12 months ago.

A year ago it would never have been a precedent they wanted to see set by the 54 times Scottish Champions.

Much can change in 12 months however, and whether the loyal supporters of the world’s most successful club foresaw or desired today’s occasion or not, they embraced it wholeheartedly.

There wasn’t a seat to be had inside Ibrox as Ally McCoist’s side took the pitch to a thunderous welcome from the same support that had just enjoyed a thank you message from Chief Executive Charles Green.

If the mood was buoyant as the last strains of Penny Arcade faded it was punctured quickly when Paul Quinn converted from the penalty spot in only the second minute to put the visitors in front.

There was debate between the home defence as to the culprit but it was Carlos Bocanegra’s foul on Michael Herd that had referee Kevin Clancy pointing at the spot.

The response from the home support was instant and one of defiance, but it took their team time to show the same sort of decisive reaction.

Ian Black did hit the bar in the third minute but it wasn’t until Little’s 15th minute strike that nerves began to settle again in the packed stands.

The Ulsterman produced a cool finish to ease the pressure a little but it wasn’t until the latter stages of the half that his side showed the kind of control that was expected of a group of experienced SPL players.

McCoist had already lost one of those experienced stars when Dean Shiels limped off after 23 minutes to be replaced by Barrie McKay.

The Rangers boss would have been pleased by the endeavour of another of his new signings. Fran Sandaza was handed a first start and at times in the first period was trying almost too hard to impress.

He did show flashes of encouraging talent however as he created space and combined with McKay to first blast over and then curl just wide of the post.

The pressure was certainly beginning to build on the visitors’ defence and eventually it told when Little headed home his second shortly before the break from Broadfoot’s cross.

McCoist might have been relieved to see his side in front at the break but he clearly wasn’t happy with the margin of the advantage.

And his half time team talk must have reflected that as his side emerged with more purpose and far more control of the fixture.

Little had a glorious chance to notch his hat-trick with seven minutes of the half gone but he missed the opportunity badly.

Rangers weren’t to be discouraged though, and after Lee McCulloch had drilled against the post and Little missed the chance to set up Sandaza the Spaniard did finally find the net.

It was only after repeated attempts from a string of team mates however, and the former St Johnstone forward had the easiest of finishes from a matter of yards.

If his was straightforward, Little’s hat-trick clinching strike was even simpler. Some sterling work from McKay on the wing set up Sandaza, whose header fell in to the path of Little to fire home from almost on the line.

That cushion signalled the chance for Emilson to be handed a debut at Ibrox with the Brazilian sampling the sort of atmosphere that helped to convince him to move to Glasgow.

He was quickly followed by Kevin Kyle who almost scored with his first touch after some fine work again by McKay, but the forward lifted over the top from just inside the box.

There was time for a fifth though as Lee McCulloch grabbed a fourth of the season in injury time with a fine low drive. 

It was a fitting end to a fantastic show of support from Rangers fans who cheered their team from the park, delighted with the display from the Light Blues.

RANGERS: Alexander; Broadfoot, Goian, Bocanegra; Little (Kyle 82), Black, McCulloch, Macleod, Wallace (Emilson 77); Sandaza, Shiels (McKay 23).
SUBS: Gallacher, Crawford.

SCORERS: Little 15, 41,73 Sandaza 63, McCulloch 90
BOOKED: Sandaza, Macleod, Black

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE: McWilliams, Jackson, Shepherd, Miller (Benton 70), Devlin, Hume, Greenhill (Begg 46), Herd, Turner, Quinn, Maxwell (Kelly 64).
SUBS: Gordon, Donaldson. 

SCORERS: Quinn 2 (pen)
BOOKED: Turner, Hume, Begg

REFEREE: Kevin Clancy.


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