HAT-TRICK hero Jon Daly inspired Rangers to their tenth League One victory in a row as Ally McCoist’s men romped to a 4-0 win against East Fife.
The big striker was again in terrific form for the Light Blues at New Bayview and his second-half treble took his goals tally to 11 while increasing his club’s impressive run in 2013/14.
After a rather flat first half it was an own goal from the home side’s Gary Thom after 49 minutes that opened the scoring before Daly stepped up to the plate with two fine headers on 51 and 56 minutes. He then made it 4-0 after the hour mark with a close range finish after excellent build-up play from Lewis Macleod.
Ally McCoist made three changes to his team with Lee Wallace and Arnold Peralta replacing Steven Smith and Robbie Crawford respectively while Nicky Clark got the nod ahead of Andy Little. And cnce again the travelling Bears packed the ground with the Fifers putting up three temporary stands to meet the demand for tickets for this fixture.
As previously mentioned the first half failed to live up to expectations as both sides struggled to hit top form albeit the visitors would have been frustrated not to have been in front at the half-time interval.
After just two minutes Bilel Mohsni blasted a shot over from close range after Lee Wallace had crossed into the box. It was a great chance for the in-form defender who had his head in his hands after his swiped left foot effort soared over the bar.
Clark was certainly looking lively and determined in the opening stages and on 10 minutes a neat back heel from Jon Daly teed up the number seven but his low drive from 25 yards was a yard wide of target.
Peralta then delivered a great free-kick from the right and Clark made an excellent run to get away from his marker but his glancing header was straight at keeper Greg Paterson.
East Fife were working hard without really testing the Gers backline but a terrific long-range shot by Liam Buchanan had to be watched by the diving Cammy Bell as it flew past the top corner of his goal.
On 25 minutes Rangers thought they had taken the lead when Daly challenged Paterson for the ball after Macleod had floated a cross into the six yard box. It dropped to Clark who toe-poked the ball over the line but ref Stephen Finnie had already decided there had been a foul on the keeper.
This was to be the last goalscoring opportunity of the half but Rangers were far brighter after the restart and quickly took control of the game.
Three minutes in and an accurate curling pass from Peralta found Clark in the box but his touch was poor and he couldn’t get his foot around the ball to find the net from 8 yards.
60 seconds later, however, and Rangers were in front. Wallace produced a teasing delivery from the left and it was East Fife defender Gary Thom who redirected the ball into the net at full stretch.
From there Daly produced a masterclass in the art of headed finishing to secure all three points for his team. On 51 minutes the big striker did brilliantly to nod the ball beyond Paterson from a Richard Foster cross and just two minutes later he extended his side’s lead again with another accurate, looping finish.
Rangers were now rampant and they could have scored a fourth before hour mark but Peralta was guilty of blazing his effort over the bar after Nicky Law had seen his shot saved.
On 66 minutes Daly completed his hat-trick and it was Macleod this time that was the provider. The young midfielder’s cut-back cross was perfect for his teammate who calmly slotted the ball into the net.
Once again the three finishes from Daly highlighted his ability to sniff out chances and he took all of them with aplomb before being replaced by substitute Andy Little.
In the end Rangers' first-half display could have been a lot better but in the second period they shifted through the gears like champions and they could, and maybe should, have scored a few more.
EAST FIFE (4-1-4-1): Paterson; Dutot, Thom, Mbu, Naysmith; Hughes (Tuta 56); R. Stewart (Trialist 76), Brown, Johnstone, McBride; Buchanan
SUBS NOT USED: Andrews, Durie, Austin, J Stewart, Campbell
BOOKINGS: Brown, Buchanan, Johnstone
RANGERS (4-1-3-2): Bell; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace (Smith 76); Black (Hutton 70); Peralta, Law, Macleod; Daly (Little 76), Clark
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Templeton, Faure, Crawford
GOALS: Thom 49og, Daly 51, 56, 66
REF: Stephen Finnie
Copyright 2014. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to www.rangers.co.uk