THE Rangers fans at McDiarmid Park were rewarded for travelling to Perth in blizzard conditions as their side produced a superb display to claim three valuable Premiership points against St Johnstone.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the Light Blues were on fire as they made it five wins on the bounce, with James Tavernier scoring from the penalty spot, Josh Windass putting the finishing touch on a great move and Sean Goss curling in another glorious free-kick to make it 3-0. And all this was in the first half.
It was a miserable opening forty-five for the Saints and they just couldn’t cope with the pace and quality Rangers were showing in the last third of the pitch.
That continued into the second half, with Alfredo Morelos glancing in a near-post header from Tavernier’s cross before St Johnstone pulled one back, with Jason Kerr heading in from a corner kick.
That was to be the only blip in a game the Light Blues dominated from start to finish and Graeme Murty will again be delighted with his players’ efforts.
The snow falling pre-match thankfully eased off before tonight’s 7.45pm kick-off but the tricky playing surface meant the opening 10 minutes were played at a somewhat tentative pace by both sides.
Early injuries to Windass and Murray Davidson interrupted the flow of the game but on 13 minutes the first attack of note caught the home side’s defence napping.
A simple long ball from Goss flew over the Saints backline and when it landed at the feet of Morelos he was floored by a clumsy challenge from goalkeeper Alan Mannus.
Referee Steven McLean immediately pointed to the spot and skipper James Tavernier stepped up and coolly sent Mannus the wrong way with a confident finish from 12 yards.
Rangers now had an early advantage to build on and on 21 minutes they again pushed forward with intent.
The impressive Greg Docherty burst past a defender on the left wing before playing in Jamie Murphy.
The on-loan Brighton playmaker cut it back for Morelos but he sclaffed his effort when a bit more composure was required.
The second goal wasn’t far away though – 26 minutes to be precise – and it was a fantastic team effort.
Docherty was again at the heart of it, playing a great one-two with Candeias 25 yards from goal. The midfielder then slid a perfectly weighted pass through the Saints defence to Windass who clipped the ball beyond the helpless Mannus with aplomb.
Tommy Wright’s men were rattled at this point but after the half-hour mark they tested Wes Foderingham for the first time.
A deep cross from Liam Craig was headed forward by Blair Alston and George Williams’ well-taken overhead kick was tipped over the bar by the big Englishman.
With 39 minutes on the clock a late challenge on Murphy by Davidson resulted in a booking and it also presented Rangers with a great opportunity to add a third goal from just over 20 yards.
Goss was the man to take it and just as he did against Hibs at Ibrox at the start of February, he curled the ball over the wall and with enough dip to find the bottom corner of the net.
It was the best possible way for Rangers to end an entertaining first half which again highlighted the positive strides the club are making under Murty.
Into the second half you expected a reaction from St Johnstone but 10 minutes in they were to concede again.
A near post cross from Tavernier bounced up and Morelos did brilliantly to glance a header over Mannus in front of the now ecstatic away support.
Wright made his first substitution of the evening with David Wotherspoon replacing Murray Davidson and after the hour mark a moment of slackness allowed the Saints to pull a goal back.
A dangerous corner kick from Liam Craig was met by Jason Kerr who nodded the ball into the net. It was a disappointing goal to lose given its simplicity and Murty was clearly annoyed with the lapse in concentration.
With Jason Cummings now on for Daniel Candeias, it was an opportunity for the young Scot to link up with Morelos in attack, with Windass moving out to the right flank. And with 13 minutes remaining Alves replaced the injured Murphy as Rangers moved to three at the back.
In the latter stages of the game it was just important Rangers didn’t pick up any further knocks or injuries with three points already in the bag, and the majority of the travelling bears waited until the final whistle to applaud their heroes after another excellent away performance.
ST JOHNSTONE: Mannus, Alston, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Davidson (Wotherspoon 58), Williams, Comrie, Kerr, Kane (Johnstone 62), Craig, Willock.
SUBS NOT USED: Clark, Millar, MacLean, Gordon, Thomson
GOALS: Kerr 62
BOOKINGS: Mannus, Davidson, Kane
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Bates, Martin, Halliday, Goss, Docherty, Murphy (Alves 77), Windass, Candeias (Cummings 62), Morelos.
SUBS NOT USED: Alnwick, Herrera, Holt, Miller, Hodson
GOALS: Tavernier 13pen, Windass 26, Goss 39, Morelos 55
REF: Steven McLean