RANGERS moved 14 points clear at the top of Scottish League One with a hard-fought 3-1 win over their highest-rated challengers, Dunfermline.
Scorers: Rangers: McCulloch (71 pen), Daly (78), Mohsni (90); Dunfermline: Falkingham (81)
Skipper Lee McCulloch opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the Light Blues with 20 minutes to go.
The penalty flashpoint saw the Pars reduced to 10 men as Jordan Moore was dismissed on a night when referee Stevie O’Reilly also brandished eight yellow cards.
Jon Daly then claimed his 15th goal of the season, before Josh Falkingham pulled a goal back for the visitors, and Bilel Mohsni struck in injury time.
Both clubs had recently experienced the trauma of administration and were both regarded as probably the two strongest sides in the third tier.
But it was Ally McCoist’s men who came out on top in the rearranged tussle at Ibrox - which was initially postponed at the request of Gers due to international call-ups - as they held on to maintain their 100 per cent league record.
However, it proved to be a bruising night for Rangers, with McCulloch requiring lengthy treatment on a head wound, before Andy Little was carried off on a stretcher wearing a neck brace and Richard Foster also hobbled out of the action.
Ian Black returned from suspension to claim a starting slot for Rangers, while Little and David Templeton were also drafted into the side.
Rangers were handed an early chance to put some pressure on their visitors when Arnold Peralta was fouled 30 yards out, but Black’s effort was cleared by the Pars defence.
Moore then picked up the first booking after just five minutes for a foul on McCulloch, who was forced to leave the pitch for treatment on a head wound.
The skipper did not return to the action until 15 minutes later, when he reappeared from the tunnel with a Terry Butcher-style bandaged head.
Just as McCulloch was waiting for the green light to return to the pitch, Rangers came close when Templeton set up Little for a downward header in front of goal that was saved by Ryan Scully.
Unfortunately for Little, he was injured during his attempts to open the scoring and eventually left the pitch on a stretcher, with Nicky Clark given the nod as his replacement on 25 minutes.
Rangers were forced to make a second change of the night after 37 minutes when Foster limped out of the action and was replaced by Sebastien Faure.
Seconds later, Clark met a Lee Wallace cross only to steer his header just wide of target as the league leaders tried again to find the opener before the break.
At the other end, the Pars carved out a decent chance of their own when Ryan Wallace picked out Andy Geggan in plenty of space but he ballooned over.
After the restart, both sides were still struggling to make much of an impact in front of goal.
Peralta picked out Templeton from a corner but the winger was off-target with a header that dipped over the crossbar.
Templeton then turned provider with a ball whipped across the face of goal for Daly who was unable to connect properly at the back post as the chance was lost.
The breakthrough came with 20 minutes to go when Moore was dismissed for felling McCulloch in the box, before the captain dusted himself off to send the keeper the wrong way and convert from the penalty spot.
Rangers doubled their advantage with 77 minutes on the clock, with Faure supplying the cross for Daly, who left Scully with no chance of keeping his header out of the net.
The Pars set up a tense ending to the match when they pulled a goal back three minutes later.
Cammy Bell did well to save from Alan Smith before Falkingham pounced to lash home the rebound.
But the points were safe for Rangers when Mohsni rifled home deep into injury time to secure the victory.
Rangers: Bell, Foster (Faure 36), McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace, Peralta (Hutton 68), Black, Law, Templeton, Little (Clark 25), Daly.
Dunfermline: Scully, Millen, Young, Morris, Whittle, Byrne, Falkingham, Geggan, Wallace (Smith 65), Robert Thomson (Husband 72), Moore.