THEY are fond of playing the Dambusters theme at Ibrox. And in last night’s Petrofac Training Cup tie, Ferguson’s Clyde performed the role of Barnes Wallis’s famous invention as they truly bombed to allow the goals to flow for an previously under-pressure Rangers.
SCORERS: Rangers - Boyd (16, 33, 79), Aird (24), McCulloch (38, 77), Macleod (45, 65); Clyde - Watt (90)
Ferguson’s old Rangers team-mate Kris Boyd has never been one to pass up opportunities presented by gaping holes in defences. And as he celebrated his 31st birthday, the mis-match of a cup contest proved the most welcome gift following a trio of games without a goal since his summer return to Ibrox.
In claiming a double in little over half an hour, and a hat-trick before the night was out, Boyd put his games-to-goals ratio this season on to a footing more in keeping with expectations.
Indeed, in handing out a humiliating going over for the far-too-open visitors, Ally McCoist was rewarded for sending out about as strong as a team as he could muster.
With the Rangers women’s team having racked up a 22-0 Scottish Cup victory over Falkirk at the weekend, McCoist’s men at one stage looked like inflicting a double figure tally on Clyde but in the end they settled for eight goals.
Following the flogging they have taken for the turgid football they have provided in their three opening games of the season against Hibernian, Hearts and Falkirk, they at least demonstrated they do have an appetite for scoring if spoonfed by opponents.
Mind you, that perhaps does something of a disservice to the efforts of Lee McCulloch and Lewis MacLeod that earned them doubles.
The captain blootered two brilliant shots past the luckless Jamie Barclay – goals number four and number eight – while an exquisite curling drive from Macleod delivered his team’s fifth right at the interval, with perfect placement into the far corner accounting for his team’s next.
Boyd’s goals were typical Boyd. Slipped in down the right by Nicky Clark after 15 minutes, his low angled shot was accurate and true.
On the half hour, he was on hand to tuck the ball away after Clyde had been carved open by his combination work with Clark and Macleod.
The goal that brought up his hat-trick was another clinical finish. Fraser Aird got in the act with a tame shot – after a Boyd step-over had put a Lee Wallace cut-back at his feet – that Barclay allowed to spin beyond him after he got a hand to it, but the keeper redeemed himself by preventing double figures late on.
Indeed, the keeper that ended the evening as Mr Angry was the man between the uprights for Rangers, Steve Simonsen. In the 90th minute his hopes of a clean sheet were dashed by a thunderous effort high into the net from Kevin Watt.
If the visiting goalkeeper was hoping he might have received a warm hand from his manager for demonstrating he was one player that hadn’t chucked it, he was disappointed. By then, Ferguson, who had spent the opening half becoming ever more agitated on the sidelines, had disappeared out of sight.
Management, thus far, can’t be said to have been kind to Ferguson. His time as caretaker at Blackpool last season hardly provided much in the way of light relief, even if demotion to the third tier of English football was narrowly avoided.
Any part-time team can take a walloping from an Ibrox side that boast the second most handsomely paid playing squad in the Scottish senior set-up –and some of the hammerings Celtic have dished out to fellow top-flight opponents in recent years have been similarly comprehensive – but he might be damned by the fact that, on radio beforehand, his brother Derek Ferguson had expressed concerns over his sibling’s determination to set out his side in an expansive 4-3-3 formation and have a go.
Derek said he would have adopted a far more cautious approach and, with how the evening unravelled, seemed to demonstrate a better understanding of the required strategy for the assignment.
However rum Rangers have been in these opening weeks of the season – and by all accounts they have been eye-wateringly so – it was difficult to fathom why some were willing to present last night’s cup encounter as an occasion to fear for McCoist. Indeed, it was difficult to fathom why some even chose to present the tie as an occasion, full stop.
Alright, so the presence of former Ibrox captain and huge figure in the club’s history, Barry Ferguson, in the away technical area was a morsel for us in the media to get our teeth into. And, by heck, did we chomp down on it.
Stripped of any sentiment, though, the reality was that Ferguson’s return to his old stomping ground for the first time in different employment came as the manager of a League Two team that were dumped out of the League Cup at home to Cowdenbeath a fortnight ago.
The Rangers punters certainly saw a second-round home tie in the Petrofac Training Cup, on a Monday night, screened live by the BBC Alba, for what it was: a game to watch in their living room...if, at all. Not since the pre-Graeme Souness days – that is pre-1986 – had a match at Ibrox proved of such little interest to the club’s followers.
Only 11,190 forked out to watch their team’s clubbing of Clyde. Poking fun at the paltry figure was the only enjoyment that a decent turnout of visiting supporters had on an evening to forget for their team.
The lowly crowd figure – which all things considered wasn’t that lowly – will be seized in certain quarters on as a sign that the club’s supporters won’t simply be turnstile fodder for a board they want bumped. No aspect of last night deserves to have such importance placed on it.