NICKY LAW put in a man-of-the-match display and netted his first goals for Rangers as Ally McCoist’s men started stage 2 of The Journey with a terrific win over Albion Rovers in the first round of the Ramsdens Challenge Cup.
The Light Blues dominated this match from start to finish but Law was the difference, particularly in the first-half as he opened his account with two terrific finishes which highlighted the undoubted quality he brings to the Gers midfield.
His first goal from Lee Wallace’s cross on 25 minutes was clinical and his second, three minutes before the break, was simply superb.
Ian Black added a third goal after the hour mark with a well taken strike before substitute David Templeton hit his side’s fourth with a stunning effort from distance.
McCoist named Jon Daly and Law as his two trialists for the first competitive game of 2013/14 and there was a late change to the manager’s starting line-up with Emilson Cribari leaving the pitch during the warm up due to a groin injury.
Seb Faure, who had an excellent game, joined skipper Lee McCulloch in the centre of defence with Kyle McAusland, who was originally listed on the bench, slotting in at right back. Chris Hegarty was drafted in as the fifth sub.
Light rain prior to kick off meant the playing surface before kick-off was in great condition and the Rangers players enjoyed a confident start to the match with the midfield three of Macleod, Black and Law linking up well in the opening 20 minutes.
During this period Scott Gallacher was a spectator with Rangers working hard at the other end as they attempted to break the deadlock.
A header from Andy Little was held by Albion keeper Neil Parry and another strike from the Ulsterman produced another decent save from the number one.
The Rangers fans applauded Nacho Novo when he joined them to take in the action and they were back on their feet again on 25 minutes when their side got the goal their early play deserved.
Macleod released the energetic Wallace on the left wing and his low crossed skipped off the surface as it went through to Law who swept the ball into the roof of the net at the back post.
Rangers were now in control of the match and having got the breakthrough they looked to double their advantage as quickly as possible.
McCulloch came close with a header from a Black free-kick and a drilled cross from the industrious Little flew across goal with no one able to get a touch.
With 42 minutes on the clock Law struck again and it was a moment of class from the playmaker. Wallace gave him the ball with a short corner and with his right boot he curled a delightful shot into the opposite top corner, giving Parry no chance.
The goal came at a great time for the Light Blues before the half time interval but it could not have been worse for Albion who had worked hard but not produced a shot to test Gallacher on his competitive debut.
Into the second half and Rangers continued to dominate with James Ward’s men struggling to keep possession against a side that looked sharp and bright, both in defence and attack.
A bit of frustration started to creep into Albion’s game and a poor, late challenge by midfielder Kevin Nicoll on Wallace resulted in ref John Beaton flashing his third yellow of the game to the Albion midfielder.
On 65 minutes McCoist made his first change with Templeton replacing Macleod and it was not long before Rangers were 3-0 up.
Daly found Black in acres of space down the right and as he made his way into the 18-yard box he could have cut the ball back to Little but instead unleashed a powerful shot which went through Parry before nestling in the net.
It was a great run and finish from the combative midfielder and on 73 minutes Rangers bagged a fourth - and what a goal it was!
The ball broke to Templeton who, from 25 yards, unleashed a spectacular, trademark drive which flew into the top corner of Parry’s net.
With the game now over McCoist was able to give Fraser Aird a taste of the action when he replaced Robbie Crawford on what proved to be an entertaining afternoon for the travelling Bears at Livingston’s Energy Assets Arena.
Law will undoubtedly grab the headlines with his excellent brace, and rightly so, but there were plenty of positives for McCoist and his coaching staff to ponder on their way back along the M8 to Ibrox with Faure and McAusland impressing in Cribari’s absence and Templeton again producing a touch of magic towards the end.
ALBION ROVERS (4-4-1-1): Parry; Reid, Donnelly, M. Dunlop, R. Dunlop; Philips, Nicoll, Innes (Tiffney 62), Flood (Chaplain 46); Crawford; McGuigan
Subs Not Used: Dallas, Trialist, McGinley
Booked: M. Dunlop, Innes, Nicoll
RANGERS (4-1-3-2): Gallacher; McAusland, Faure, McCulloch, Wallace; Black; Crawford (Aird 77), Law, Macleod (Templeton 65); Little, Daly
Subs Not Used: Smith, Hegarty, Gasparotto
REF: John Beaton
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