RANGERS take on Celtic this Saturday in the League Cup semi final at Hampden Park – but how did the Gers negotiate their way through?
RANGERS sauntered through to the quarter-finals of the BetFred Cup with a comprehensive and controlling win over the Blue Toon.
Much to his surprise Clint Hill bagged two on the evening, adding to an opening goal from Niko Kranjcar that oozed Croatian class, a first for Joe Dodoo at Ibrox and an own goal from Fiacre Kelleher.
Mark Warburton’s side never looked troubled by the League Two outfit as they hit cruise control and the visitors failed to contain the Gers, seeing themselves reduced to 10 men when Nathan Blockley crunched in on Joey Barton.
The Light Blues will find out their opponents for the next round of the League Cup in tomorrow evening’s draw.
Rangers started brightly, enjoying, unsurprisingly, most of the play. Jordan Rossiter settled into his new midfield birth well on his first start for the club, spraying the ball about with ease while Joe Dodoo, also on a starting debut looked lively.
Peterhead gave Matt Gilks his first touch of the game on 11 minutes, Nathan Blockley conjuring up an ultimately weak shot from the left. Gilks collected comfortably at his near post.
With 18 minutes gone Rangers had threatened but with not as much intent as they would have liked. Michael O’Halloran linked up with Harry Forrester to slice a ball along the by-line, forcing Steven Noble to scramble a clearance.
Kranjcar decided to go it alone when it came to intent a minute later and the result opened the scoring for the Gers in impressive style. Dodoo played a cute square ball to him on the edge of the area and the Croatian took one touch to send a bullet of a ball flying into the top corner. Graeme Smith didn’t stand a chance.
Just before the half hour mark Dodoo whipped round to fire a snapshot at Smith. Joey Barton had given him the option of a short layoff to his left but the young striker kept his head down to take the strike on himself. The Blue Toon keeper scooping the effort up low.
Rossiter was excelling and produced a ball that could have threaded the eye of a needle on 31 minutes – it resulted in James Tavernier firing off the crossbar. The 19-year-old picked the ball up on the right and cut the Peterhead defence down the middle as he found a minute channel of space to pick out Tavernier. The right-back took it first time and launched a rising shot goalwards, just inches too high to make it three in three against the visitors.
Rangers second came through the unlikely figure of Hill ten minutes before the break. Kranjcar’s corner ghosted its way to the centre-back who was lurking in the six-yard box. The ball was trapped up beneath the 37-year-old’s feet but he managed to untangle to punt the ball over the line.
O’Halloran had a double of chances as the 36th minute ticked by. First Kranjcar was involved again, cushioning a sweet ball into the box. A chance deflection off a Peterhead defender sent the ball into the winger’s path and Smith was forced to save at his feet.
Next the former St Johnstone man was played in down the left from a superb Rossiter ball. He cut inside and again the Blue Toon keeper was forced to act quickly to avoid further blushes.
Dodoo too was at the double when it came to chances in quick succession but failed to find the back of the net as half-time drew close. Barton picked him out and the Leicester City product had a cry for a penalty as Fiacre Kelleher felled him from behind and didn’t appear to get ball before man.
The 20-year-old was desperate for an Ibrox goal and looked to be on for it when Kranjcar slipped him in and the striker turned on the pace. His shot was well saved by Smith before Forrester battled to pick up the spilled ball but Peterhead won that one and Dodoo’s search went on.
He went close again as soon as the second period began. Smith thwarting the young forward with a quick reaction one-on-one. Dodoo wasn’t going to let this one lie.
Then quickly with 47 minutes gone Rangers had their third, an own goal from former Celtic youth Kelleher. O’Halloran cut one of his famous balls across the face of goal and the centre-back turned into his own net over Smith.
Dodoo had his second penalty shout of the game a few minutes later as the Gers once again surged forward. He skinned Scott Ross to dart into the box from the left and in the direction of the by-line but Smith came to meet him and bundled both player and ball out of contention, somewhat controversially.
Peterhead found themselves down to 10 men as Blockley up ended Barton in a two-footed challenge. Andrew Dallas didn’t need any time to think as he quickly produced the red card.
Rob Kiernan sent a bullet header at Smith from the resulting free-kick. The former Gers stopper saved brilliantly to deny the skipper for the night his first Rangers goal. But what one Light Blues centre-back couldn’t do the other could do twice. Clint Hill notched his second for the evening on 56 minutes. He climbed highest to nod home from a Kranjcar cross.
With 25 minutes left on the clock Dodoo at last had his goal and his huge smile showed the worth was wait it. Tavernier had motored to the by-line to send a fizzing ball across the face of goal and the Ghanaian applied the finishing touched inside the near post. Rangers had five and showed no signs of abating.
Dodoo wasn’t happy with one, after all Clint Hill had two! He tried his luck from just outside the area with the clock showing 72 minutes. His shot was drilled and low, bouncing just wide of the right post as Smith went scrambling.
O’Halloran deserved a goal for his free flowing performance but despite trying in vein to find the net the 25-year-old was stopped by Smith again three minutes from time. He cut in from the right to fire a strike goalwards but the keeper palmed it away.
Jason Holt was back from injury and looking on his toes when Dodoo outwitted Steven Noble to fizz a ball into the area. The dimuntive midfielder poached it down but couldn’t lift the ball over Smith. It was to be Rangers last chance of the game as they progressed with ease.
RANGERS: Gilks; Tavernier, Hill, Kiernan, Hodson; Rossiter (Halliday 61’), Barton (Holt 62’), Kranjcar (McKay 62’); O’Halloran, Dodoo, Forrester.
Subs not used: Foderingham, Miller, Bates.
Goals: Kranjcar 19’, Hill 35’ 56’, Kelleher (og) 47’, Dodoo 65’
PETERHEAD: Smith, Strachan (McIntosh 53’), Noble, Ross, Rumsby, Kelleher, Stevenson (Riley 53’), Redman (Nassor 61’), McAllister, Ferry, Blockley.
Subs not used: Hobday, Brown, Dzierzawski, Samuels.
REFEREE: Andrew Dallas.