RANGERS produced a fine away display to comfortably beat 10-man Stenhousemuir and end the Warriors’ impressive 12-game unbeaten run in League One.

Two excellent first-half strikes from Stevie Smith and Dean Shiels put the visitors on their way to their 31st victory in Scottish football’s third tier this season.

And after the break a well-taken penalty from captain Lee McCulloch made it 3-0 on 65 minutes before Nicky Law cut inside from the left and curled in the champion’s 100th league goal from 20 yards.

Ally McCoist made three changes to his team for kick off with Cammy Bell, Kyle Hutton and Fraser Aird back in the starting eleven and the manager will not doubt be delighted with his side’s overall display against Scott Booth’s men who are still in the hunt for a play-off place.

It was also a day to remember for 18-year-old midfielder Charlie Telfer who made his first-team debut, wearing the number 18 jersey, when he replaced Shiels in the second half.

On a bright but chilly afternoon it was the home side that created the first opportunity of the match and it was a chance they should have taken.

After just five minutes Sean Dickson produced a powerful run into the box and when he cut the ball back to Ben Greenhalgh the number nine’s weak shot from eight yards went straight to Bell. Had it gone either side of the keeper the Warriors would have been in front.

Rangers were enjoying plenty of possession in the early stages without troubling keeper Chris Smith but on 15 minutes a nice piece of skill from Aird resulted in Bryan Hodge tripping the winger.

Having already scored two stunning free kicks this season Smith tried his luck again and although his effort had plenty of power and dip to get over the wall it went a foot over the bar and into the temporary stands behind the goal.

Smith then turned provider in Rangers’ next attack. The left back made good progress down the left wing and his cross was sclaffed by Jon Daly initially. The ball however went through to Richard Foster but he was able to hit the target with a wayward shot.

With two men in attack Stenny’s midfielders attempted to get forward at every opportunity and a deflected shot from Hodge from distance had to be watched carefully by Bell as it spun into his hands.

But on 31 minutes the opening goal arrived and it was a fine strike from Smith who has impressed in the absence of Lee Wallace.

A long throw in from Foster was headed on by Daly and when it arrived at Smith just inside the 18-yard box he drilled a terrific low shot into the net, beating Chris Smith at his near post.

If that was a terrific finish Shiels matched it as he doubled the visitor’s advantage five minutes later.

Law threaded a perfect through pass to the Ulsterman who sprinted through on goal before curling a delightful shot around Smith, who had darted off his line, with the outside of his cultured right boot.

Rangers thoroughly deserved their two-goal lead at the break and as the game restarted they looked hungry for more.

Smith is clearly enjoying his recent run in the Gers side and today he showed a desire to get push up the park from his full back berth.

With 10 minutes of the second half played he again cut in dangerously from the wing but after a burst of pace took him past two defenders his netbound shot was blocked by a third.

Before the hour mark Booth’s side then pushed forward with intent. Ciaran Summers did well to get inside Aird on the left wing and his cross found Sean Dickson who hit a shot across Bell and wide of target.

The winger thumped the ground in frustration having failed to get his side back into the match and on 65 minutes it proved a costly miss as Rangers were awarded a spot kick.

Daly found Law bursting into the box and the midfielder was brought down by Robbie Duncan just as he was about to shoot.

The ref then issued a red card to the right back before McCulloch beat Smith low to the keeper’s right with a confident strike from 12 yards.

Telfer received a warm applause from the travelling bears as he went on and the club’s loyal followers were off their seats again when Law scored his side’s fourth with a superb curling strike.

Substitute Nicky Clark will be disappointed he didn’t add a fifth goal when he was sent clear and he just had Smith to beat. The striker’s first shot was well saved well by the keeper and when the ball came back out to him he wriggled free but from a tight angle his second effort was blocked.

That would have been the icing on the cake for McCoist’s men but they can be more than satisfied with their afternoon’s work having comfortably beaten a side that was high in confidence going into today’s 90 minutes.   

STENHOUSEMUIR (4-4-2): Smith; Duncan, Greacen, McMillan, Summers; Dickson, Hodge, Rowson (Faulds 46), Watt (Smith 62); Greenhalgh, Higgins (Gemmell 69)
SUBS: Shaw, Lawson, Lynch, Douglas,
SENT OFF: Duncan

RANGERS (4-2-3-1): Bell; Foster, McCulloch, Mohsni, Smith; Black (Faure 66), Hutton; Aird, Law, Shiels (Telfer 68); Daly (Clark 73)
SUBS: Simonsen, Crawford, Gallagher, Sinnamon
GOALS: Smith 31, Shiels 36, McCulloch 65pen, Law 78
BOOKINGS: Black, Daly, Mohsni

REF: John McKendrick

ATT: 2,767

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