KANE Hemmings secured himself an early birthday present by claiming his first Rangers goal in today’s 4-1 win over Queen’s Park.
• Goals: Queen’s Park 1: Shankland 87
Rangers 4: Templeton 17, 85; Aird 34; Hemmings 67.
• Bookings: Queen’s Park: Gallagher, Anderson. Rangers: Crawford, McCulloch, Templeton.
• Attendance: 11492
• Ref: C Charleston
The striker - who turns 21 tomorrow - came off the bench to open his senior account for the club, with David Templeton grabbing a double and Fraser Aird also on the score-sheet.
Having already wrapped up the Irn-Bru Third Division title, Rangers were able to play without pressure and this performance was a big improvement on recent weeks.
The big screens at the national stadium displayed a message of congratulations to Rangers, who were crowned champions last week only after nearest rivals Queen’s suffered defeat at the hands of Elgin City after their own match at Montrose had ended all square earlier in the day.
Rangers made two changes following the drab goalless stalemate at Links Park, with Aird and Anestis Argyriou both added to the starting line-up at Hampden.
Chris Hegarty missed out through suspension and youngster Hemmings was dropped to the bench after failing to hit the target as the lone striker in the last two outings.
Lee McCulloch returned to a forward role, after a spell shoring up defence, with Sebastien Faure taking the skipper’s place at centre-half.
The first real chance of the match fell to Aird, who tried his luck with a curling effort that dropped straight into the hands of goalkeeper Neil Parry.
Templeton then weaved his way into the box before seeing a shot blocked, with McCulloch’s rebound strike also coming off a Spiders defender.
Queen’s passed up a great chance to take the lead when Jamie Longworth bulleted a header wide from five yards when he should at least have worked goalkeeper Neil Alexander.
Rangers had failed to find the back of the net from open play in their last three matches but ended the goal drought with an 18th-minute opener.
Lee Wallace burst down the left flank before the ball broke for Templeton on the edge of the area and he drove beyond Parry, despite the keeper getting a hand to the shot.
Hampden was clearly a venue Aird enjoyed and he doubled the lead after 36 minutes with his second goal for Rangers - and his second at the national stadium after claiming the winner against the Spiders earlier in the season.
An Ian Black free-kick found McCulloch at the back post and his effort was prevented from crossing the line by the feet of Parry, before Aird reacted to stab home the loose ball from a yard out.
Argyriou appeared to go over on his ankle at the start of the second half and was forced off just before the hour-mark, as Hemmings was thrown into the action with McCulloch moved back to defence.
Hemmings was celebrating his first Rangers goal with 69 minutes on the clock after meeting Templeton’s pass and lashing high into the net with his left foot.
Hungry for more, the forward then screwed an effort across goal and past the upright, with Parry untroubled on this occasion.
Barrie McKay was introduced to the action and quickly teed up Templeton for his second of the day, the winger responding with a decent right-foot effort after 86 minutes.
Queen’s Park did have the net bulging with two minutes to go but Lawrence Shankland’s back-post header was too little, too late from the home side.