RANGERS claimed their third top flight scalp of the season as they progressed to the Scottish Cup fifth round with a 3-0 win over Kilmarnock.
A Nicky Law brace and a Kris Boyd strike secured their place in the draw tomorrow as Ally McCoist’s men powered to victory. Meaning Gers still remain in all four competitions this season.
Law scored in either half, his second a peach of a strike inside the final ten minutes of the game. Kris Boyd had to be happy with a place on the bench, for the second week running, against his former team. But the striker made an immediate point to his manager, scoring after only a minute on the pitch.
Gers had a peppering of half chances in the opening exchanges. A couple of minutes in Lewis Macleod skipped into the box from the left and flashed a shot just wide of Craig Samson’s right post. Then moments later Nicky Law galloped down the right channel and evaded his man to get to the by-line and cut a ball back. But his delivery into the six yard box was cleared by the Kilmarnock defence.
Just after the 10 minute mark Fraser Aird, who had been restored to the starting line-up after five games out with a thigh tear, won a corner and took it himself. The winger’s curving delivery met the head of Lee McCulloch but the captain was just off target, heading over on the angle.
Killie carved out their first real effort of the game with 14 minutes on the clock; Ross Barbour’s cut back from the by-line finding Alexi Eremenko arriving into the box. The Fin’s strike was hurtling between Steve Simonsen and his left post but Law lashed out at the ball to avert the danger and concede a corner.
Rangers began a rewarding five minute period just before the 20 minute mark, with a Macleod free kick. His dangerous ball hung in the air and had to be cleared by Mark Connolly in an unsettled Kilmarnock defence.
Still ruffled a minute later Killie could only clear a Gers throw in from the right as far as Law on the edge of the area. The middleman hooked his right foot around the ball to send a curling effort beyond the outstretched Samson and open the scoring with 19 minutes gone.
Moments later Macleod picked up a clearance impeccably 25-yards out, controlling the ball on his left knee to bring it down and fire a volley at Samson. The Killie keeper just got his left palm to the effort, much to the frustration of the young Ger, who had started the game brightly.
Kenny Miller believed he should have had a penalty when he was brought down by Barbour in the area on 22 minutes. The striker appealed for a spot kick loudly – but the right back had taken both man and ball with his last ditch tackle and referee Brain Colvin waved away his protests.
Rangers were driving forward with confidence and Ian Black had an effort when he found himself in space on the edge of the box. The 2012 Scottish Cup winner turned quickly to lash an effort through the Kilmarnock back line and just beyond the right upright.
On the half hour mark Killie pushed forward into the Light Blues box, desperate to break into a game they were struggling to make an impression in. Centre back Connolly’s strike from distance was weak though and was collected comfortably by Simonsen.
Just before the break Jon Daly had his first chance of the half. Black laid the ball out wide to Miller who found his strike partner with his delivery, Daly took time to rearrange his feet but his shot was straight at stopper Samson.
Kilmarnock had clearly regrouped during half time and Rangers found it hard to make a mark as the second half got underway. The Killie pushed Gers deep as they fought to take the game to the visitors. Journeyman of the English lower leagues, Tope Obadeyi caused problems with his pace, cutting in from his left birth.
Rangers began to creep forward more and the Light Blues two wide men combined with 58 minutes gone. Aird beat his man down the right to float a ball back to Macleod. The 20-year old couldn’t settle the ball though and thrashed his effort high into the Copeland Road end.
Macleod had a near identical effort eight minutes later. Black saw his shot from the edge of the box blocked and it fell only as far as Macleod. The midfielder turned away in frustration as he saw his strike climb into the stands once again.
With twenty minutes left Ally McCoist replaced his strike partnership with two brand new bodies for an instant impact. Nicky Clark and Kris Boyd entered the field and within seconds Boyd had played a quick short ball into the onrushing Macleod. He released a powerful strike but a diving clearance saw it diverted away from goal.
The resulting Gers corner floated onto the head of McCulloch whose header was punched away by the keeper, but only as far as Boyd. The former Killie man was quick to react and manoeuvred himself into a shooting position to slip the ball between Samson and his left post, to give his side a two goal lead. The frontman reeled away in celebration, after netting his 15th goal in 16 games against his old team, less than a minute after coming on.
Seven minutes were left to play when Rangers came forward on the counter attack. Richard Foster played a little ball into Law, 25-yards out, who took a few touches before lifting the ball up and launching it into the top right hand corner of the goal. The midfielder with his second of the game, Rangers third and securing the Light Blues progression into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.
RANGERS: Simonsen, McGregor, McCulloch, Mohsni, Foster, Aird, Law, Black, Macleod (Shiels 86”), Daly (Boyd 69”), Miller (Clark 69”)
SUBS: Robinson, Faure, Hutton, Templeton
GOALS: Law 19” & 83”, Boyd 70”
Yellow Cards: McKenzie 55”
KILMARNOCK: Samson, Barbour, Connolly, McKenzie, Clingan, Miller, Obadeyi (Magennis 81”), Slater (Hamill 60”), Eremenko (Muirhead 60”), Chantler, Pascali
SUBS: Brennan, Johnston, Ashcroft, Westlake