RANGERS eased into the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Airdrieonians at Ibrox Stadium.
After a first-half which finished goalless the Light Blues, not for the first time this season, enjoyed a far better second period with Jon Daly again playing a crucial role in this win.
The red hot hitman scored on 48 and 51 minutes, his tidy right foot finish opening the scoring before he doubled his side’s advantage with a trademark glancing header. Substitute David Templeton then added a third with 11 minutes remaining, firing the ball home after excellent build-up play from Nicky Law.
With Ian Black suspended Ally McCoist handed Kyle Hutton his first start of the season and this was the only change to the side that beat Stenhousemuir to progress to the Final of the Ramsdens Cup on Tuesday night.
New Airdrie boss Gary Bollan, meanwhile, named Anthony Bullock in goals for kick-off. The 41-year-old only trained with his team-mates for the first time last night and after signing a month-long emergency deal he took the place of regular number one Scott Gallacher who is on loan at New Broomfield from Rangers.
The League One leaders started the match positively. After just five minutes a great spin in the box took Hutton away from his marker and Bullock had to be lively to palm away his powerful shot from a tight angle.
At the other end of the pitch it was Lee McCulloch who tested Cammy Bell for the first time in the game, the skipper sclaffing a clearance from a Jamie Bain cross which led to Bell diving to his left to make a simple stop.
Rangers were in control in the early stages and on 12 minutes great link up play between Lewis Macleod and Lee Wallace on the left flank resulted in the latter having an effort on goal which was blocked by a Diamonds defender.
The heavy rain was making the playing surface tricky for both teams and as the game edged towards the half hour mark it remained goalless albeit the home side always looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
On 28 minutes Daly tried to do just that but Grant Drummond did well to win a header against the striker who looked odds on to nod the ball in from five yards.
Law was at his energetic best throughout this match, tracking back to win the ball for his side and pushing forward with intent at every opportunity. Lee Wallace and Bilel Mohsni were the same and in the 36th minute it was the French Tunisian who tried his luck from distance but his low shot lacked the power to beat Bullock. McCulloch then glanced a header into the keeper’s side netting from Arnold Peralta’s free kick.
At John Beaton's half-time whistle Bollan must have been happy with his side’s organised display up to that point although Bell had yet to be tested in any way.
Rangers had to show a bit more urgency in the second period and yet again it was Daly who opened the scoring on 48 minutes.
Peralta’s deep cross was headed out only as far as the number nine who took one touch before slotting the ball into the opposite corner. Such is Daly’s form you felt it was almost inevitable he would find the net and three minutes later he was at it again.
Foster’s excellent cross was perfect for the forward who, after getting away from his marker far too easily, glanced the ball past Bullock from eight yards for his 14th goal of the season.
The visitors now had a mountain to climb and even six minutes into the second period there looked to be no way back. Rangers kept the pressure on and with 75 minutes on the clock Daly again got his head to cross but the ball flew over the bar and into the Bears in the Copland Stand.
It was substitute Templeton who added a third after he had replaced Lewis Macleod. Law did brilliantly on the left and his perfect cross found Temps who coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net with a sweet first-time effort from 12 yards.
It might have been Halloween this week but there were to be no scares at Ibrox this evening and Rangers will find out who they will play in the fourth round of the Cup on Tuesday at noon when Sir Alex Ferguson conducts the draw in Aberdeen.
RANGERS: Bell; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Hutton; Peralta (Aird 80), Law, Macleod (Templeton 65); Clark (Little 69), Daly.
SUBS: Simonsen, Faure, Crawford, Smith
GOALS: Daly 48, 51 Templeton 79
AIRDRIEONIANS: Bullock; Buchanan, MacCormack, Drummond, Boyle; Hardie; Bain (Coogans 84), Sinclair, Blockley, Coult (Watt 66); Lister
SUBS: Duncan, O'Byrne, McLaren, Barclay