GOALS from Lee Wallace and Jon Daly secured all three points for Rangers against Stranraer and maintained the club’s 100 per cent away record in League One this season.
On a tricky playing surface, Ally McCoist’s men again showed plenty of grit and determination to beat Stephen Aitken’s men who were clearly fired up for the visit of the Light Blues.
Wallace’s goal at the start of the game was a moment of class and again it highlighted his attacking qualities.
The left back cut inside before playing a great one-two with Nicky Law. He then powered beyond the home side’s defence and fired a shot across keeper David Mitchell and into the opposite corner of the net.
As the game edged nearer to the final whistle it looked as if just one goal would separate the sides but with two minutes remaining Daly made the most of a defensive blunder to make it 2-0.
A long ball by Foster went through to Stranraer’s number one Mitchell who headed the ball against the big striker. Daly then roll the ball into the empty net for his 23rd goal of the season.
McCoist made two changes to his starting XI this evening with Richard Foster and Bilel Mohsni replacing Seb Faure and Emilson Cribari. Steven Smith also featured on the left side of midfield with Arnold Peralta making his 15th start of 2013/14 alongside Ian Black in the centre of midfield.
This tactical switch allowed Nicky Law to push further forward alongside Daly and after just four minutes he had a big part in Rangers’ first goal of the night from Wallace. It was a great give and go from the defender but the return pass to him from Law was perfect.
The home side tried to respond quickly and Bell had to be sharp to turn the ball past the post after a free kick from the left had ricocheted off Daly in the box and arrowed towards the bottom corner of the net.
From the corner the ball dropped to Jamie Longworth but with his back to goal his scooped effort went over.
It was an entertaining start to the match and on 17 minutes Rangers should have doubled their advantage. Stevie Smith found Daly with a terrific cross but the club’s top scorer headed wide when it looked certain he would score.
Before the half hour mark the home side’s Andrew Stirling was the first player to be shown a yellow card, the winger getting past Richard Foster to get into the Gers 18-yard box but he then took a dive when McCulloch moved across to make a tackle.
Stanraer, to their credit, kept pushing men forward and on 34 minutes it took a brilliant save from Bell to deny them an equaliser. Scott Robertson put plenty of power behind his low drive from 15 yards but the Gers in-form keeper dived to his right and somehow flicked the ball out for a corner.
It was a stunning stop and several of the Stranraer players had their hands on their heads wondering how it didn’t go in.
Into the second half and Aitken’s players continued to show their battling qualities although midfielder Grant Gallagher showed a bit too enthusiasm with a poor challenge on Stevie Smith.
There was now a bit of needle in the match and the referee had to calm down the Rangers players when Law burst through on goal but before he could reach the 18-yard box right-back Scott Robertson caught him with a reckless tackle which left the midfielder in need of lengthy treatment.
But with Daly on the pitch Rangers always have a great target to hit and on 58 minutes he had another opportunity to add to his impressive goals tally this season. Wallace’s teasing delivery from the left was perfect for the Irishman but keeper Mitchell used his legs to block his downward header.
With Andy Little replacing Fraser Aird after the hour mark the visitors kept the pressure on the home defence with Cammy Bell rarely troubled throughout a fiery second period. Arnold Peralta was then hooked off with 15 minutes remaining after a late challenge on Gallagher sent the home support into a frenzy.
In the end Daly got the goal his hard work deserved and Rangers travel back to Glasgow this evening knowing three more wins will clinch the League One title.
STRANRAER (4-4-2): Mitchell, Robertson, Rumsby, McKeown, Docherty; Winter (Forde 82), Bell, Gallagher, A. Stirling; Grehan (McKenna 71), Longworth
SUBS: Fahey, S. Stirling, MacGregor, Kinnaird, Forde
BOOKINGS: A. Stirling, Gallagher, Robertson
RANGERS (4-4-1-1): Bell; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace; Aird (Little 63), Black, Peralta (Crawford 75), Smith; Law, Daly
SUBS: Simonsen, Templeton, Shiels, Cribari, Gallagher
GOALS: Wallace 4, Daly 88
REF: Euan Anderson