A SECOND half brace from man-of-the-match Bilel Mohsni gave Rangers their 32nd win in League One and Ally McCoist his 100th victory as manager.
After a goalless first half the Light Blues came out of the traps quickly after the break and got the first goal the Ibrox faithful were hoping for.
With 52 minutes on the clock Fraser Aird did well to win a corner. He then took it himself and his delivery was perfect for Mohsni who didn’t have move to head the ball low past Ayr keeper David Hutton.
That said it was still an excellent finish from the Gers star but the home side then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot with a poor passage of play leading to Ayr’s equaliser.
Foster rolled the ball into Peralta but he was quickly dispossessed and it was Alan Forrest who fired the ball low past Cammy Bell with a cool finish.
That gave the visitors a glimmer of hope but with nine minutes left Mohsni hit the winner from close range and he celebrated his 12th goal of the campaign in typical style in front of the Copland Stand.
With the League One title already wrapped up it’s all about focus and concentration for the Light Blues but they certainly showed plenty of passion and commitment against the Honest Men who still sit in the third play-off slot just one point above fifth place Stenhousemuir.
Peralta returned to the Rangers team this evening and that was only change from the team that beat Stenhousemuir 4-0 at Ochilview.
The Honduran international missed that one with a hamstring strain suffered in the 3-0 victory over Forfar seven days ago.
With Peralta back in it was Kyle Hutton who dropped to a bench which featured teenage pair Calum Gallagher and Charlie Telfer.
Gordon Durie’s under-20 team was also in league action tonight – beating Kilmarnock 2-1 at Rugby Park – but McCoist decided to keep them in his senior pool.
With the rain helping to put a bit of zip on the Ibrox surface the first chance of the match fell to Ayr’s Craig Malcolm.
Michael Moffat did well to skip by a challenge and when his strike partner collected the ball 20 yards out he curled a shot inches wide of the post with Bell diving at full stretch to his left.
Roberts’ decision to play with a 4-4-2 formation meant it was an open game with chances being created at both ends.
On 14 minutes Aird hit a powerful shot into the net via the post but referee Iain Brines had already halted the play for a push by Shiels in the 18-yard box.
Stevie Smith was again a threat motoring down the left wing and when he was found by Shiels his teasing cross found Aird. He flicked the ball on to Daly but with just the keeper to beat he failed to find the net.
There was little between the sides in the first half and after Peralta had a shot blocked Bell had to be sharp to make a great stop from former Murray Park youth player Michael Donald who had made a good run in behind the Gers backline from deep.
That was a let-off and with three minutes of the half remaining Moffat, who has 25 league goals this season, again found a couple of yards and space and he blasted a shot over the bar.
As the second half got underway Rangers continued to get the ball wide in a bid to get crosses into the box to Daly.
And before the 50-minute mark both Smith and Foster sent in teasing deliveries but the big striker couldn’t get his head to them.
On 53 minutes Mohsni did though as the Light Blues took the lead. The Paris-born stopper got on the end of Aird’s accurate cross to break the deadlock with a fine downward header.
From there Rangers went about doubling their advantage and they would have been kicking themselves they didn’t.
On 58 minutes Peralta did well to get to the line and his cross was nervously cleared to Daly who shot straight at Hutton from 15 yards.
After the hour mark Smith then played a terrific through pass to Black but he couldn’t beat the Ayr keeper who sprinted off his line to deny the midfielder.
The pressure was now relentless and when Smith produced a neat one-two with Shiels to get into the box his low cross was nervously booted clear.
On 68 minutes the home side were made to pay for not taking those chances and, defensively, it was a horror goal to lose.
Foster played the ball to Peralta on the egde of the box and he was dispossessed too easily by Scott McLaughlin. He slipped it to Alan Forrest who rolled a low shot past Bell.
If that sounds too easy it was but to be fair to the champions they never gave up and with nine minutes left Mohsni popped up with the winner.
Hutton pulled off a fantastic save initially from a header but Mohnsi again showed great attacking instincts to beat two defenders and stab the ball into the net.
RANGERS (4-2-3-1): Bell; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Smith; Black, Peralta (Clark 72); Aird, Shiels (Gallagher 72), Law (Hutton 86); Daly
SUBS NOT USED: Simonsen, Faure, Crawford, Telfer
GOALS: Mohsni 53, 81
AYR UTD (4-4-2): Hutton; McGowan, Campbell, Lithgow, Pope; Forrest, McLaughlin, Gilmour, Donald; Moffat, Malcolm
SUBS NOT USED: Newman, Kyle, Shankland, Crawford, Hunter, Marenghi, Longridge
GOALS: Forrest 68
BOOKINGS: Donald, Malcolm
REF: Iain Brines