RANGERS edged another step closer to setting a new club record for competitive wins in a row as they beat Ayr United 3-0.
First-half goals from Jon Daly and Fraser Aird put the Light Blues firmly in command well before referee Euan Anderson’s whistle blew to mark the midway point.
Bilel Mohsni's clincher five minutes from the end then wrapped up a comfortable success as he slammed in from close range.
Ally McCoist’s men have now won 20 consecutive games in all competitions, a run stretching all the way back to early August.
Their vein of form grows more impressive all the time and as well as scoring 70 goals in that sequence, they’ve kept 15 clean sheets over that period too.
Indeed, they’ve only trailed for 70 of the last 1,800 minutes of football they’ve played as they continue to dominate a League One title race they will surely go on to win.
Two more successes against Stenhousemuir and Stranraer will then see the all-time mark of 22 back-to-back wins matched by Boxing Day.
If those results can be recorded, another victory at Dunfermline will see a new total set and on this form it’s hard to see anyone stopping McCoist’s team.
This result was notable for one other thing. With the Pars drawing at home to Forfar, the lead at the top of the table now stands at 16 points as well after 15 fixtures.
Gers made one change to the side which beat Forfar so comprehensively in midweek and the alteration was enforced to an extent.
Nicky Law, having been struggling with a slight groin for the last couple of weeks, was rested and Arnold Peralta came in as his replacement.
That meant Fraser Aird moved over to the left flank and Lewis Macleod moved into a more central position in midfield next to Ian Black.
Before kick-off, fans observed a minute’s applause as fans at all SPFL grounds did the same to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, who passed away on Thursday aged 95.
And home supporters were almost clapping again eight minutes into the game as they came close to taking an early lead.
Peralta got a lucky break as he wriggled past two men on the flank before smartly going the long way around a third to make space for himself on the right edge of the box.
The Honduran then picked out Daly with a low clipped cross but the Irishman had more time than he appreciated and hurriedly put his shot over the crossbar.
It wasn’t long before he’d make his mark though and by the 12-minute mark the Light Blues were indeed in front through the former Dundee United hitman.
Nicky Clark, visibly more confident after four goals in midweek, was cynically taken out of play by Scott McLaughlin on the turn.
And when Black sent the free kick goalwards, Daly was there as he is so often to steer a beautifully-cushioned header beyond David Hutton into the net.
Clark had a chance to double the advantage moments later when Daly’s flick on set him free but tracked well by his marker, his shot lacked the pace it required.
Rangers had their tails up and Lee McCulloch nodded Peralta’s corner fractionally wide while Sebastien Faure sent a ripping 35-yard drive just over.
A second goal wasn’t far away though and when it came midway through the first period, it was no less than the hosts deserved.
Mohsni played a precision pass out of defence to Aird, who turned and had a chance to play on to Clark.
When he held on to possession instead it appeared to be the wrong choice at first but he produced a terrific low finish from the edge of the area to prove that wasn’t the case.
It was an excellent strike from the 18-year-old as he grabbed his second goal of the season and with that Gers seemed as good as assured of the points already.
Clark could have made it 3-0 with a diving header after a good deep delivery from the busy Peralta but it bounced down into the ground then up over the woodwork.
Some of the home side’s build-up play was really good and Black’s arrowed pass split two defenders and played in Lee Wallace in space.
His cross found Daly who laid off to Macleod but the midfielder’s shot was deflected wide as he sought his first club strike since netting against Ayr in October.
Forward Daly was then denied was looked a certain goal as Wallace tiptoed his way into the six-yard box and passed to him but the ball was nicked off his foot and scrambled away.
As a very one-sided first half drew to a close, Daly had another opportunity when Clark headed on to him but he fired over and it remained 2-0 at the break.
Ayr began the second period much brighter and forced a couple of corners as they tried to find a way back into the game but they came to nothing.
The visitors certainly showed improvement after the restart and Rangers lacked the same impetus they’d had previously.
They still had the better chances, with Macleod drilling just past the far post, Black putting a tame free kick off target and Wallace curling a right-footed attempt over.
But Ayr hung in earlier previous confidence a win was in the bag began to appear a little premature.
While the away side started to enjoy more pressure of its own, it couldn’t test Cammy Bell and the closest it came to threatening was when a flimsy penalty claim was rightly denied.
After being much quieter for most of the half, Gers finished with a flourish as Mohsni made it 3-0 five minutes from full-time.
Peralta's corner eventually fell to McCulloch and his effort was stopped by Hutton but his defensive partner was there to lash over the line.
RANGERS: Bell; Faure, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Peralta, Black (Crawford 77), Macleod, Aird (Templeton 66); Clark, Daly.
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Smith, Shiels, Cribari, McKay.
SCORERS: Daly 12, Aird 23, Mohsni 85.
AYR UNITED: Hutton; Hunter (McGowan 82), Lithgow, McLaughlin, Pope; Donald, Gilmour, Malcolm, Forrest (Wardrope 89); Kyle (Shankland 87), Moffat.
SUBS NOT USED: Muir, Crawford, McCracken, Longridge.
BOOKINGS: Gilmour, McLaughlin, Hunter.
REFEREE: Euan Anderson.
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