Rangers finally secured their first away win the Scottish Third Division on Sunday, thanks to a 2-0 win over Clyde. Goals from Dean Shiels and Lee McCulloch delivered the long-awaited win and ensured that their away day hoodoo was broken against 10-man Clyde.
Previous results away from home left the Rangers support less than inspired with draws away to Peterhead, Berwick and Annan, as well as the humiliating defeat to bottom of the pile side, Stirling Albion. The pressure was all on Rangers, but they finally delivered for their fans.
Rangers welcomed back Andy Little into the starting line-up for the first time since September, after he made his comeback against Queen’s Park last week. Chris Hegarty also made the starting line-up, while Fraser Aird dropped to the bench and Sebastien Faure was nowhere to be seen.
Clyde were without Ian Gray who was suspended, but were given some good news with the return of David Marsh after recovering from injury.
The home side were the first to threaten when Stuart McColm easily shrugged off Hegarty before firing in a cross into the box for Stefan McCluskey, however Gers keeper Neil Alexander punched the ball away from danger. Soon after John Neill saw his header go inches wide of the Rangers goal.
Rangers, fired a warning to their hosts though, when captain Lee McCulloch latched onto an Andy Little cross but his show was superbly saved by Clyde keeper Jamie Barclay, with help from the crossbar.
Barclay was in action again when he blocked a shot from Andy Little, the Rangers striker then fired the rebound across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
Despite, the early scare from Clyde, Rangers’ pressure finally paid off as they took the lead on 17 minutes when Dean Shiels fired a shot into the top corner of the Clyde goal.
Clyde should have equalised when Bryan Gilfillan’s cutback was latched onto by McCluskey but he could not hit the target.
At the other end, Barclay kept Clyde in the game just before half time, when he denied a Lee Wallace long-range shot before he tipped a McCulloch header, from the resulting corner, on to the crossbar.
Into the second half and Rangers had their keeper Neil Alexander to thank after he pulled off a superb save to deny McCluskey from point-blank range.
Clyde’s hopes of securing an equaliser or anything out of the game, were dealt a blow when they were reduced to 10-men after 68 minutes. Neill clashed with Rangers forward Dean Shiels, when a melee ensued, earning himself a second bookable offence.
With Rangers pressing forward to kill off the game as a contest, Lewis MacLeod cut the ball back for McCulloch, but the Rangers skipper blasted his shot over the bar.
Ally McCoist’s side finally killed off the game with ten minutes to go. Chris Hegarty crossed for Ian Black at the back post, who teed up Lee McCulloch who finished from close range.
Rangers are now top of the table with 18 points, two clear of second-placed Elgin, while Clyde sit eighth place on 10 points.
After the match, Rangers manager Ally McCoist commented: “You can talk about the great opening goal and it was a great goal. But the main reason we got the result today was because we worked our socks off. The one over-riding factor that should always be there is a desire to work your socks off and they got their rewards because of that.”
McCoist’s counterpart, Clyde manager Jim Duffy, felt that the game was turned on its head when they were reduced to 10-men when John Neill was sent off after 68 minutes when he clashed with Dean Shiels. He said: “It was just a split second loss of control and I really don’t know why John was getting involved because it was nothing to do with him. When there’s a little melee, it’s standard practice now that the referee will book everybody involved. It was a silly thing and it put the nail in the coffin as far as us having a chance to get a result.
“From Rangers’ point of view, they’ll be delighted and most people will think they’ll get a head of steam up and should stretch their advantage at the top now.”
CLYDE (4-5-1): Barclay; Brown, Marsh, Oliver, Sharp; Neill, Hay, Gilfillan (Kane 75), Sweeney, McColm; McCluskey (Watt 82).
Subs Not Used: Fitzharris, Scullion, Rajovic.
RANGERS (4-1-4-1): Alexnader; Hegarty, Cribari (Argyriou 82), Perry, Wallace; Hutton; Little (Aird 83), Black, Macleod, Shiels (McKay 73); McCulloch.
Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Kyle.
Referee: Alan Muir