RANGERS put three past St Mirren as they opened their Ladbrokes Championship account with three points.
A double from Lee Wallace in the first half and a scrambled finish from Dean Shiels a minute from time gave Mark Warburton a win in his first league game in charge.
Gers took just five minutes to open the scoring and Wallace, who had a storming game at left-back added to his tally in the 26th minute.
Cameron Howieson pegged one back for the visitors just moments later and it made for a nervy second half before sub Shiels popped up at the death.
Ibrox had fell silent to acknowledge Sammy Cox and when the whistle went to end the minute’s silence the stadium all but erupted into spine tingling noise. Rangers were clearly spurred on and with three minutes gone Nicky Law was handed the first chance of the game. Andy Halliday toe poked a pass into the midfielder’s path and he scrambled to connect properly as he took a swipe at it just yards from goal. It was a sign of things to come as Mark Warburton’s side poured forward in attack.
And with Rangers relentless on the St. Mirren defence it was only a matter of time before the net bulged. Wallace latched onto a corner in a packed box and the centre-half fired into the roof of the net to send Ibrox bouncing. The visitors protested about a foul as their players lay stricken in a heap on the penalty spot but referee Kevin Clancy was quick to wave their shouts away.
Rangers looked in the mood and managed to stifle St Mirren’s attack when they pressed forward a couple of times in the opening 20 minutes. They were hustling hard and Tavernier flew down the flank to try his luck from an almighty angle, it sailed wide but highlighted the confidence of the former Wigan man right now.
While the Light Blues looked assured in attack they were giving fans a few toe curling moments in defence with their new style of passing out from the back. Wes Foderingham and Wallace tread a thin line as they exchanges passes to try and play the backline out of trouble on 22 minutes.
But Wallace looked like a man inspired as he slotted home Gers second and his second of the evening with 26 minutes gone. He was bombing down the left when he ran onto a well weighted ball from Holt that threaded him in on the angle. He didn’t break stride as put his laces through the ball and saw the side netting flutter.
Rangers were to suffer on the counter attack just three minutes later though. The defence switched off momentarily to allow Paul McMullan to feed in Howieson and he made a quick break through the centre-halves to stroke the ball beyond Foderingham.
Martyn Waghorn went inches close to getting his third of the campaign when he fashioned a pile driver out of nowhere five minutes before the break. He picked the ball up about 30 yards out and launched an effort at Mark Ridgers goal and the keeper could only watch as it whistled over his crossbar.
Then moments later Jason Holt latched onto Rob Kiernan’s through ball on the right and skipped inside. The former Hearts man fashioned a terrific shot and the keeper had to get low to palm it away for a corner.
Rangers brought Ibrox to its feet on 45 minutes with a spectacular move that deserved a goal. First Wallace turned the St Mirren midfielder on the touchline as he flicked the ball round him and with some skill skipped past him. He stormed down the wing and played in Waghorn. It was Tom Walsh who had the chance to end the move off but his shot from 10 yards out was just a fraction too high.
With 11 minutes gone of the second-half Rangers played themselves into trouble when Tavernier tripped McMullan, who was breaking into the area with pace, and conceded a penalty. Former Ger Steven Thompson stepped up to take the resulting spot kick but he saved the right-back’s blushes when he blazed it over and left the score at 2-1. Waghorn responded immediately at the other end and but for a superb saving tackle Gers would have had a third.
In the 69th minute substitute Nicky Clark was denied by a brilliant save from Ridgers as he outstretched a leg to canon the ball clear. Rangers had profited from the advantage as Wallace was felled in the run up by Jack Baird and Clark slipped into the box to lash a shot goalwards.
Rangers set up a series of superb chances to get their third with 15 minutes left to play. Waghorn was pleading for a goal and added to his hatful of chances in the 76th minute when he sent the keeper scrabbling with a well-placed header. He’d risen to meet Tavernier’s curling cross from the right.
And then the right-back wanted one himself two minutes later when he eyed up a speciality free-kick but his strike whizzed over the apex of the goal. The former Wigan pair combined again when Gers broke quickly from a corner and Tavernier fed in Waghorn who fired just over the bar.
David Templeton came on with seven minutes left to play and he could have had one at the death as it went end to end. He headed straight at Ridgers who struggled to juggle the ball to keep St Mirren in the game.
But it was fellow sub Shiels who eventually made the chances count when he bundled the ball over the line in the 89th minute. It came after his nodded effort was palmed back at him by the keeper. Ridgers had made an excellent double save to deny the Northern Irishman but he couldn’t make it third time lucky as Gers made it three to end the evening off in style.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Wilson, Kiernan, Wallace, Holt (Shiels 60’), Halliday, Law, McKay (Templeton 83’), Waghorn, Walsh (Clark 60’)
Subs not used: Kelly, Aird, Hardie, Thompson
Goals: Wallace 5’ 26’, Shiels 89’
Yellows: Tavernier 56’
ST MIRREN: Ridgers, Naismith, Kelly, Conlan, McMullan, Thompson (Gallagher 72’), Carswell, Howieson (Morgan 66’), Mallan (Gow 81’), Baird, Agnew
Subs not used: Wilks, Goodwin, , McLear, Cuddihy
Goals: Howieson 29’
Yellows: Baird 69’, Kelly 84’