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Tuesday, 29 October 2013 21:25

Stenhousemuir 0-1 Rangers

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RANGERS have reached their first Ramsdens Cup final with a narrow semi victory against Stenhousemuir at Ochilview.

Jon Daly’s header 16 minutes from full-time – his ninth goal in his last five appearances - was enough to separate the sides.

The Light Blues dominated for large spells, creating a host of opportunities to secure a more handsome winning margin.

And although they were wasteful in front of goal, they did more than enough to progress to a concluding match with Raith Rovers.

That match is scheduled to be played on April 6 next year as things stand at a venue which is yet to be determined.

The tie won’t take place at Hampden though as it will be out of bounds for renovations ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next summer.

For only the second time this season, Gers were unchanged following Saturday’s comfortable 4-0 win over East Fife at New Bayview.

That meant Nicky Clark joined Daly in attack once again, while Lewis Macleod overcame an ankle knock to take his place in midfield.

It was unsurprising given the Light Blues had won the teams’ previous meeting 8-0 last month that they started brighter.

Lee McCulloch had the first real opportunity to score, getting on the end of a loose ball after home keeper Chris Smith failed to deal with Ian Black’s teasing free kick.

The skipper was denied, however, while frustration followed for Daly moments later when he fell under Kevin McKinlay’s challenge in the box and saw his claim for a penalty dismissed.

Ochilview’s artificial surface is one of the older ones in Scotland and consequently far from being one of manager McCoist’s favourite pitches.

Yet his team has always tended to knock the ball about relatively well on it and that was the case again in the opening exchanges here.

A fluid move involving Macleod, Nicky Law and Lee Wallace ended with the latter charging into the box and cutting the ball back.

But he couldn’t find anyone and when Bilel Mohsni headed Arnold Peralta’s corner wide, Stenny breathed another proverbial sigh of relief as the scores remained level.

It was to remain that way for a little longer than McCoist will have liked and chances for his side were only occasional at best.

Clark’s snap shot after being fed by a smart Macleod flick was on target but straight at Smith in the home goal.

At the other end, McCulloch conceded a free kick 25 yards out but in the rare event of Stenny having a shooting chance, Sean Higgins bent the set piece well over.

Back came Rangers, with the skipper nodding Peralta’s corner over and Smith having to dive on Law’s cross at the second attempt to deny Daly any room.

The away side was certainly getting closer and Honduran Peralta had the best chance yet when he sent a blistering drive crashing off the underside of the bar from 35 yards.

Daly got to the rebound first and clipped back to Law, who headed past then hit the woodwork himself seconds later from well outside the area too.

With the interval approaching, Stenhousemuir were really hanging on but they got to the break intact thanks to some wayward finishing from Black.

Better than that for them, they began the second period much better and had a decent attempt on goal when substitute Brown Ferguson forced Cammy Bell to save well.

Darren Smith’s effort was also blocked as Martyn Corrigan’s men had their best spell of the contest so far.

Daly tried to swing the momentum back in Gers’ favour with a stinging shot that Chris Smith gathered well.

Gers then had a massive let off as Ferguson broke the offside trap and squared to Darren Smith with Bell stranded.

Yet somehow the left winger put the ball past the far post when it appeared much easier to net and it was a miss Stenny would later regret.

Daly had another well-hit effort stopped on the line after Peralta fed him and it was clear frustration was setting in.

McCoist threw David Templeton on and his movement began causing problems as he won a couple of free kicks almost straight away.

But neither came to anything while Mohsni put a header past the far post as the stalemate continued.

McCoist introduced Andy Little in search of a breakthrough and immediately, at last, Rangers took a lead.

But it was Daly who finally made the breakthrough with his 12th strike of the season, a glancing header from Mohsni’s ball into the box.

The former Dundee United hitman did everything right as he rose to get on the end of the pass and with keeper Smith caught flapping, he touched beyond him to make it 1-0.

Little had a go at adding to the advantage but pulled his effort wide and Macleod was blocked after Wallace’s cut back bounced off the top of Daly’s head and away.

Law then scampered in on goal and a crucial touch from Nicky Devlin kept the Warriors in the game as he steered off the line.

With time running out for the home side, it was doing little to do get back into the game and Rangers only looked like adding a clincher.

McCulloch’s header struck the upright as the Light Blues hit wood for a third time and in a sense that summed up their night.

Not that it mattered. Just enough had been done and now there’s that date with Raith to look forward to next year.

STENHOUSEMUIR: C Smith; Devlin, McMillan, Malone, McKinlay; Dickson, Rowson, Lynch, Hodge (Ferguson 14), D Smith; Higgins (Douglas 84).

SUBS NOT USED: R Smith, McNeil, Shaw.

BOOKINGS: Rowson.

RANGERS: Bell; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Black; Peralta (Templeton 65), Law, Macleod; Clark (Little 74), Daly.

SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Faure, Hutton.

SCORER: Daly 74.

BOOKINGS: Peralta.

REFEREE: Bobby Madden.

ATTENDANCE: 2,338.

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

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