Rangers kicked off their 2013-14 campaign with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Albion Rovers in the style many expected to witness last term, as the Ibrox side progressed into the Second Round of the Ramsden’s Challenge Cup.
After attaining criticism last year Rangers manager Ally McCoist snapped up Nicky Law – a much-needed creative asset in the middle of the field and after notching two goals and turning in a classy showing – and it looks like the Ibrox faithful may find watching their side much easier on the eye this term.
Second half strikes from Ian Black and David Templeton sealed what was to be a comfortable victory for the visitors as Cliftonhill was not deemed big nor secure enough to host this contest which was switched to Livingston’s Almondvale Stadium, attracting a healthy crowd of 5,345 fans pleased to see the return of the new season.
It took last year’s Third Division champions until the 17th minute before seriously testing Rovers keeper Neil Parry when he made a comfortable save from an Andy Little header.
Indeed such was the paucity of opportunities in the early stages the biggest cheers were reserved for the sight of former Ibrox cult hero Nacho Novo taking his place amongst the Rangers support.
With 22 minutes on the clock Little again came close when he got on the end of a Jon Daly knockdown but his low effort was comfortably gathered by Parry.
The deadlock was broken three minutes later though, when Lewis McLeod found Lee Wallace bursting down the left-wing and his cut back was slotted home by the onrushing Law.
Rangers were dominating all aspects of the play with the Coatbridge outfit penned into their own half for the bulk of the opening 45 minutes.
And with 32 minutes gone Little played a dangerous ball across the front of the Rovers goal, but there was no-one in a blue shirt around to tuck it home.
It was only a matter of time before the Glasgow side increased their lead and three minutes before the break Law curled in a delicious right foot effort which found its way past the helpless Parry.
The second half pattern of play was the same as the first with McCoist’s men continuing to dominate possession whilst their Third Division opponents struggled to maintain a foothold in the game.
One of the many positives for the Ibrox men was how new signing Daly linked up with his team mates using his aerial strength productively and proving to be a valuable outlet for those around him.
In the 69th minute, a flick from the big Irishman allowed Black the space and time to run through the ragged Rovers backline before firing home for Rangers’ third goal of the game.
It took until the 70th minute for Rovers to have their first chance of the game, when Mark McGuigan tested Scott Gallacher with a first time effort.
Rangers substitute Templeton was only on the park for eight minutes before he found his name on the scoring sheet, blasting a 20 yard screamer into the back of the Rovers net to make it 4-0.
For McCoist there was nothing but positives to take from this late summer encounter.
He said: “It was a really professional performance from the lads today. After a tentative start we were polished and comfortable and I thought some of the goals we scored were out of this world.”
With both Nicky Law and Jon Daly having to be registered as trialists, the Rangers boss joked that perhaps they had done enough to secure contracts with the Ibrox club, and he also admitted that young defender Chris Hegarty was muscling into his job as manager.
He added: “I knew something was wrong when I saw Chris in the dressing room getting changed and he was telling Kyle McAusland that he would need to play because Emilson Cribari had tweaked his groin in the warm up so he decided for himself to go on the bench!”
Man of the match Law thoroughly deserved his post-match plaudits and was keen to stress that his new team are looking healthy as they look to progress through the divisions back to the SPFL.
He said: “As debuts go that was probably as good as it gets. Today was about putting a marker down to show everyone that this new Rangers mean business this year. I thought the reception the fans gave me was brilliant and hopefully I can reach double figures myself this season.”
Rovers boss James Ward was not too downcast following his side’s defeat but questioned why the Govan sides first goal was allowed to stand.
He said: “We thought that one of their players had handled the ball in the lead up to the first goal but the referee told him it was accidental hand ball. In all my years in football I didn’t even know such a thing existed. But overall I thought the lads applied themselves well despite the scoreline.”
Albion Rovers: N Parry, A Reid, R Dunlop, P Innes (Tiffney 63), C Donnelly, M Dunlop, K Nicoll (Trialist 72) M Mcguigan, J Flood (Chaplain 45), G Philips.
Subs not used: C Dallas,M McGinley
Rangers: S Gallacher, S Faure, K McAusland, R Crawford (Aird 76), L Wallace, L McCulloch, A Little, J Daly, L Macleod (Templeton 65) , N Law.
Subs not used: C Hegarty, L Gasparato, A Smith.
Referee: John Beaton
For more match photos check out Phil McCloy’s images at our official Flickr website.