RANGERS put five past Hamilton in a mental game at the Superseal Stadium which sent the Gers back into second in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
There were SIX goals in the first 34 minutes of a half which saw Graeme Murty’s side come back from going behind early on.
Hamilton opened the scoring with five minutes played before Jamie Murphy levelled things inside 10 minutes and after that the goals kept coming. Josh Windass put Rangers ahead with help from a goalkeeping blunder, former Ger David Templeton drew Accies level and then Alfredo Morelos got in on the act too.
Windass added two more in the game, one either side of half-time to celebrate his new contract with a second career hat-trick and help hand Rangers a victory in an, at times, wild game of end-to-end football. Dougie Imrie added a late third for Accies from the spot.
The crazy first-half began how it would continue when David Bates was forced into a saving header just moments after kick-off. Ioannis Skondras had snuck forward to edge into the box and try and angle a shot under the crossbar. The towering redhead managed to nod the ball out and over the bar with Wes Foderingham committed elsewhere.
Rangers had barely made it out of their own half when Hamilton took the lead through Darren Lyon with five minutes played. Greg Docherty, who was returning to his former club for the first-time since leaving for Ibrox last month, failed to deal with an Accies corner, lashing at fresh air rather than the ball. The midfielder could only watch on as it fell to Lyon and Docherty’s fellow academy graduate skipped into the area and stroked the ball low and into the bottom corner through a crowd of bodies.
The Gers needed to react after offering little in the opening stages and Docherty went close to make amends when he placed a cross from the right channel onto the head of Morelos. The Colombian’s nodded effort looked tricky but he managed to create a good loop and hit the apex of the woodwork.
That jolted Murty’s side into action and with their next attack they drew level. With his confidence bolstered Morelos won the battle down on the by-line with Xavier Tomas on 10 minutes to win the ball. The tussle came after some clever play from the away side, Bates nodded forward before a quick one-two between Daniel Candeias and Morelos. After outstripping Tomas for pace the Gers striker squared neatly for Murphy to side foot home from the six yard box for his second in two games.
Rangers had the lead in the cruellest of fashion from an Accies point of view on 19 minutes. Russell Martin played the ball out of defence to Murphy on the left flank and he touched inside to Josh Windass. The forward’s 20 yard drive from the corner of the box looked easy enough to deal with Gary Wood’s had a goalkeeper’s worst nightmare as he lost control of the catch whilst backpedalling and all but threw the strike over the line.
For every Rangers attack Hamilton were managing their own in response and the Light Blues held the lead for just three minutes before a former Ger got his own back. A Martin defensive header fell short to Ross Jenkins and he set David Templeton on his way. His low drive from the edge of the box whizzed past Foderingham and nestled into the same bottom Accies’ first goal had.
To say this game was end to end would be an understatement because on 26 minutes Rangers had the fifth goal of the game. This time Docherty switched the play from right to left for Murphy to cannon a shot into the body of Woods from close range. The Hamilton keeper got down low to save but could only parry the ball and instead of having a second go at goal Murphy elected a short pass to Morelos. The 21-year-old was sitting centrally and fired Rangers third into the back of the net.
With 34 minutes on the clock Rangers had their fourth of an unbelievable opening period. It was great move from the Gers from start to finish as James Tavernier found Murphy inside with a stunning ball to slice Hamilton in two. The Brighton loanee cut back with a sweet flick into the path of Windass and the 24-year-old had to just keep his cool to guide the ball home and net his 14th of the season.
Sean Goss nearly added a fifth moments before the break when he bent a free-kick from 25 yards over the wall. Woods scrambled to save at his near post but once again spilt the ball and Morelos nearly lapped up the mistake with a follow up strike that glanced across the front of goal.
The second-half began in slightly calmer fashion. Rangers had their first good chance on 57 minutes when Docherty hooked to ball out of the air to fashion a chance out of nothing. On the turn the 22-year-old fired a shot off the edge of the crossbar and when David Bates launched himself at the rebound off the woodwork he could only head wide.
Hamilton’s chances had been limited too and they went closest just after the hour mark. Marios Ogkmpoe collected a ball over the top and ran at Martin who was solo at the back. The on loan Norwich defender couldn’t match the forward for pace and he managed to get a clean strike away at Foderingham who blocked before quickly collecting the ball.
Rangers should have had a fifth with 22 minutes left to play when Declan John did some good work down the left to release Windass. With pace to burn he tore forward before sending a ball just as quick into the box and across the face of goal. Morelos and Candeias were queuing up for it but didn’t make a decision between them and both missed the chance of an easy tap in.
On 72 minutes Rangers did have their fifth though and Windass had his third of the afternoon. This time Morelos turned provider to spot Windass bursting through the middle and the South American curled a ball around the backline of Accies. Windass took the shot on first time, bursting the back of the net with a powerful finish.
When it seemed the goals might stop Hamilton were handed a penalty with three minutes to play. Lewis Ferguson’s shot was halted by the arm of Martin as he attempted to block and Bobby Madden pointed to the spot. Dougie Imrie smashed his left-footed spot-kick down the middle and Foderingham, who dived the wrong way.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Bates, Martin, John, Goss (Halliday 86’), Docherty, Windass (Miller 78’), Candeias, Murphy, Morelos (Cummings 78’)
Subs: Kelly, Hodson, Cardoso, Herrera.
Goals: Murphy 10’ Windass 19’ 34’ 72’ Morelos 26’
HAMILTON: Woods, Skondras, McMann, Jenkins, Tomas, Van der Weg (Imrie 69’), Templeton (Bingham 69’), Lyon, Ferguson, Sarris, Ogkmpoe.
Subs not used: Fulton, Miller, Redmond, Rojano, Want
Goals: Skondras 5’ Templeton 22’ Imrie 88’