RANGERS made it two wins in two away games as Nikica Jelavic and Allan McGregor made sure of the points in a 1-0 victory over Hamilton.
The Croatian forward produced a moment of brilliance to fire a free kick in to the roof of the net with a minute of the first half remaining.
That put his side ahead, but only after McGregor had brilliantly saved Dougie Imrie’s penalty after just a quarter of an hour of the game.
Walter Smith took the increasingly unusual step of naming an unchanged starting line-up, giving the eleven who had achieved victory at McDiarmid Park on Tuesday the chance to make it two wins on the road.
Smith did welcome David Healy back on to the bench, though there was no place for Lee McCulloch in the match day 18.
The Rangers players had a far better surface to contend with at New Douglas Park with the prospect of some improved football in comparison to the win in Perth.
Yet on occasion the Light Blues looked forward quickly as they aimed to find the front pairing of Jelavic and Lafferty.
Richard Foster tried to pick out the latter in the second minute but Tomas Cerny in the Hamilton goal was quick to react and despite spilling the ball he denied the Ulsterman a second in as many games.
Foster was involved at both ends and when he was caught out in the twelfth minute by Dougie Imrie the Hamilton forward’s cutback was good but Gary McDonald screwed his effort wide of the post.
The game was opening up a little toward the quarter hour mark and when Steven Davis and Steven Naismith combined to release Jelavic it took sharp reactions from Cerny to deny the Croatian forward.
But for all Cerny’s impressive efforts, it was McGregor who stole the goalkeeping headlines in the 16th minute.
Davis was judged to have tripped Imrie in the box but after a long delay to proceedings McGregor dived low to his left to deny the Hamilton number 7 who had picked himself up to take the spot kick.
Rangers were clearly buoyed by getting out of jail and with Naismith increasingly involved the visitors looked for an opening.
The 12 goal midfielder tried to pick out Lafferty with a lobbed through ball but the Ulsterman’s first time effort was easily gathered by Cerny.
Naismith then found himself in the referee’s book when he fired the ball off Alex Neil with the midfielder prone on the New Douglas Park pitch.
The Hamilton captain’s reaction also earned him a yellow card but it also seemed to fire up his side.
Some good work from Nigel Hasselbaink on the right opened things up for the home side and Foster had to show great awareness to block the lurking Imrie on 26 minutes.
With Hamilton enjoying their best spell it was Mo Edu’s turn to get in on the thick of the match, first of all picking up a nasty head knock in a challenge with Aaron Wildig.
The American was then yellow carded for a late challenge on Imrie before seeing Cerny palm away a fine left foot effort from 22 yards.
Rangers kept that attack alive and managed to work the ball back to Jelavic who also saw an excellent left foot strike well blocked by Cerny.
But the Czech keeper could do nothing about the Croatian’s effort a minute before half time.
A long punt from McGregor saw the forward isolated, but he did well against two defenders to earn a free kick.
And from the resulting set piece he curled a fantastic effort beyond the outstretched hand of Cerny and in to the top corner to earn his side the lead at the interval.
The second period started with a substitution for the visitors with Walter Smith introducing Jamie Ness in place of Gregg Wylde.
That led to a reshuffle for the Light Blues with Lafferty pulling wide and Naismith closer to Jelavic in a more attacking role.
But it was the home side on the front foot in the early stages, with David Weir becoming the third Rangers player to go in the book.
He caught Hasselbaink on the half way line with a tackle that dragged down the forward’s calf.
Hamilton were obviously keen to work their way back in to the game but it was Smith’s side that were enjoying the bulk of possession.
The home side seemed set to try to hit their visitors on the counter attack, but with only Hasselbaink to aim at the ball rarely held up to cause the Rangers defence too many problems.
Similarly Rangers struggled to make their possession count with Hamilton sitting so many players behind the ball.
Lafferty tried his luck on a couple of occasions with one fresh air shot delighting the home fans, before he dragged a shot just wide from twenty yards
The Light Blues then had McGregor to thank again as the keeper dived full length to his left to deny Jim McAllister’s twenty yard drive with fifteen minutes remaining.
McAllister’s introduction was proving fruitful for the home side and with eight minutes left he did well to get down the right only for the ever reliable Sasa Papac to close out his cross before he could cause any further problems.