RANGERS made it four wins on the bounce with a hard-fought victory over Inverness at Ibrox Stadium this afternoon.
A Brad McKay own-goal after 13 minutes was the difference between the two sides in this Christmas Eve match, but it was a scrappy old match with Gers creating not much at all in the way of goalscoring opportunities.
On what was a wet, blustery and pretty Baltic afternoon on the Southside of Glasgow, Rangers looked to warm themselves up with a good start, and they almost pulled that off to perfection with a goal inside the opening three minutes.
Martyn Waghorn escaped a clutch of Inverness defenders out on the right wing and burst into the area, but rather than squaring the ball for Jason Holt or Barrie McKay who had made good runs, he went for goal from an acute angle and succeeded only in giving a supporter in the Copland Road Stand an early Christmas present of the match ball.
Holt was then next to try his luck with an overhead effort after being fed by Lee Wallace from the left flank, but while his attempt was spectacular it was cleared with ease by the Highlanders.
At the other end, Inverness proved they had plenty to offer in an attacking sense when Iain Vigurs dropped a ball onto the penalty spot for Losana Doumbouya. He did well to hold off Clint Hill to poke the ball goalwards, but goalkeeper Wes Foderingham managed to claim it on the line top prevent the goal.
The action then swung immediately to the opposite end once more, with Waghorn again charging down the right. This time, he got to the byline and cut the ball back, looking for Holt. Before it could reach him though, Caley man Brad McKay stuck out a leg and diverted the ball into his own net to hand Rangers the lead they craved.
It was terrific wing-play by Waghorn to create the goal, and there is little doubt but for McKay’s interception, Holt would have tapped the ball home.
Afterwards, Gers were almost the architects of their own downfall as Andy Halliday played a loose square ball along the 18-yard line where Larnell Cole intercepted and shot for goal, but again Foderingham was equal to it.
Halliday then came close to making amends for that error, blasting in a 30-yard drive which Owain Fon-Williams did well to tip over his crossbar.
The game then entered something of a scrappy period, with neither side producing much in the way of goalscoring chances until Greg Tansey brought the very best out of Wes Foderingham with a drive from the edge of the area tipped around the post by the Englishman’s fingertips.
A mix-up between Hill and Foderingham after Lee Hodson was short with a backwards header saw Cole nip in to win the ball and it broke for Liam Polworth to hit from 25-yards with Foderingham stranded, but his effort was off-target.
Into the second half, and the scrappy theme continued for the opening period with both sides struggling again to create much in the way of clear opportunities. Indeed, on 66 minutes when a great chance fell to Joe Garner, it came after Inverness had countless opportunities to clear their lines, but failed to do so.
His towering header from a Holt cross dropped just wide of the target with the Ibrox crowd out of their seats willing the ball to drop in the back of the net.
Caley were still a threat from time to time however, and having come on as a substitute less than a minute earlier, Aaron Doran ought to have leveled matters with a shot from just beyond the penalty shot which he blasted over from a Doumbouya knock-down.
Jason Holt then had a chance to seal the game for Rangers after being fed by Hodson, but the fingertips of Fon-Williams denied him, and Foderingham again had to be at his very best in the home goal to deny Tansey once more, flicking another powerful effort of his over the bar.
There was concern late-on as Lee Wallace went down under a tackle and hurt himself, and with Gers having used all three-subs, he played the remainder of the game up front as a hobbling striker with Andy Halliday switching to left-back.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Hodson, Kiernan, Hill, Wallace; Tavernier (Windass, 59), Holt, Halliday; Waghorn (Forrester, 72), Garner, McKay (Miller, 59).
SUBS: Gilks, Wilson, Dodoo, O’Halloran.
INVERNESS CT: Fon-Williams, Tremarco, Warren, Meekings, Polworth, Draper, Vigurs (Doran, 73), Tansey, McKay, Doumbouya (Fisher, 79), Cole (Boden, 84).
SUBS: Esson, Mulraney, King, Sutherland.
REFEREE: Don Robertson
ATTENDANCE: 48, 528