RAMPANT Rangers romped to a rousing 17th successive victory as they returned to action after the last international break of the year with a convincing 3-0 win at Arbroath.
Jon Daly’s early effort, a Bradley Donaldson own goal and a Nicky Clark header had the Light Blues coasting by the time Iain Brines blew for the break.
And although there was no further swelling of the scoreline in the final 45 minutes, there’s no doubt this was a merited win.
The result sees Gers go 11 points clear of second-placed Dunfermline at the top of the League One table again as they maintain their 100 per cent record 13 games into the competition.
They’ve still got a game in hand over the Pars too – the fixture against Forfar that will take place on December 3 – and don’t look like slipping up any time soon on this form.
Having had 16 days since their last match, manager Ally McCoist had plenty of time to settle on his team for this one and he made two changes.
Arnold Peralta and David Templeton dropped out of the side that beat Airdrie 2-0 – taking places on the bench instead – with Fraser Aird and Lewis Macleod replacing them.
Rangers had failed in each of their last seven games to go in front before half-time and after a long wait for the trip to Angus that was expected to change.
Sure enough it did and in quite emphatic style at that as the visitors raced into a thoroughly deserved three-goal advantage by the midway point.
And on a night when the Light Blues reached a half century of league counters for 2013/14, it took them just 100 seconds to break the deadlock.
Typically it was Daly who edged them ahead with a ruthless volleyed finish from close range as he got on the end of Ian Black’s free kick after a foul on Lee Wallace by David Banjo.
In turn, he ensured he had netted for the seventh consecutive match in all competitions as he took his haul for the campaign to 17.
The flying start by the away side set a tone and McCoist’s men were fluid as they came forward, with Aird’s introduction a key factor in that.
His pace and movement created openings against a side the manager had been wary of prior to kick-off and the Ibrox outfit totally dominated.
Clark missed a couple of opportunities, Lee McCulloch put a header over the bar and Lee Wallace had a shot cleared off the line as Gers pushed for a second.
Macleod then saw his cross almost put into his net by Donaldson and that was the prelude to the strike which did make it 2-0.
Both those players were involved, the former’s shot from the edge of the area being diverted in by the home defender following Bilel Mohsni’s classy backheel.
So purposeful were Rangers that it seemed their latest win was already assured with more than two thirds of the contest remaining.
But their attitude was terrific on an evening when the freezing conditions could instead have seen many take to the pitch short of a spring in their step and they continued to press.
Sebastien Faure put Aird’s cross a yard over the upright and Daly just failed to connect with another sumptuous centre from the Scotland under-19 international.
A third goal was on the cards and it came four minutes before the whistle as Clark got in on the act.
He scored his third of the season with a lovely glancing back-post header from Wallace’s free kick after Daly was taken out by a lumbering Donaldson challenge.
Arbroath rallied to an extent after the restart but it was Daly who nearly netted again just before the hour mark when his cushioned attempt smacked the post.
In the sequence of play that followed, Nicky Law then made space for himself but put his shot from 15 yards into the enclosure behind the goal.
At the other end, Chris Scott hit the woodwork too as he scurried down the right and rattled the post after Cammy Bell came out to narrow the angle well.
With the clock ticking down, both sides made substitutions as it seemed all parties were settled on the fact Rangers would win.
Nevertheless, McCoist’s team looked more likely to net again and Daly went close once more with a shot that deflected behind from Kyle Hutton’s through pass.
Hutton himself drove over as well and Wallace put the ball wide after a great one-two with the lively Macleod.
In the end, it wasn’t to be in the second period for Rangers but by then the hard work had been done.
Now it’s a break from league duty as a Scottish Cup trip to Falkirk awaits on Saturday, where the Light Blues will bid to match the run of 18 wins in a row achieved in late 1992.
ARBROATH: Morrison, Banjo, Hamilton, Scott (Bayne 68), Travis, Donaldson, Linn, Chisholm, Erwin (Milne 76), Cook, Sheerin (Smith 69).
SUBS NOT USED: Yao, Sibanda, Keddie, Wilson.
BOOKINGS: Travis, Chisholm.
RANGERS: Bell; Faure, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Aird (Crawford 66), Black (Hutton 66), Law, Macleod; Clark, Daly.
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Templeton, Peralta, Cribari, Smith.
SCORERS: Daly 2, Donaldson OG 26, Clark 41.
BOOKINGS: Mohsni, Black.
REFEREE: Iain Brines.
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