RANGERS’ progress off the park may be as bumpy as ever, amply demonstrated by yesterday’s turn of events. On the park, however, their trip to Dumbarton was an exercise in serenity.
The victory over the part-timers may not have warranted the superlatives lavished on it by Ibrox manager Ally McCoist, who described the performance as “terrific” and having “set high standards”. It was, though, the sort of commanding win that his team have not always managed to serve up in two years unbeaten in league fixtures on the road.
The three-point haul moves the Championship’s second-place club to within six points of Hearts, who travel to Easter Road on derby duty today. It also allows them to go into Tuesday night’s League Cup quarter-final at home to St Johnstone feeling good about themselves.
“We want to win at least one cup this season, and we have a quarter-final this week, and a semi-final [in the Petrofac Training Cup] to come,” said Rangers striker Kenny Miller.
“We have had a few great performances and if we play like we have been, with our passing and the way we have been clinical [then it’s looking good].
The pick of the goals, and the moment that McCoist said he would rather talk about than any take on news that Mike Ashley had agreed a £2 million loan to keep the lights on, was delivered by the
rampaging Wallace just after the hour mark. He powered down the left with jet-like propulsion before exchanging passes with Miller and
sweeping the ball past the impressive Danny Rogers to make it 2-0.
Murray confessed he thought it might be “one of those days when we had a wee chance” when the first notable action by the on-loan Aberdeen goalkeeper was diving to his right to push away a penalty by Lee McCulloch in the early stages, the award given by referee Andrew Dallas for contact between David van Zanten and Wallace. Within a couple of minutes, this let-off for Dumbarton had been wiped by an opener that resulted from Steven Smith swinging over a left-wing cross that Miller rammed into the roof of the net after it had been missed by Boyd. A more flighted cross by Smith after 67 minutes was never going to be missed by Boyd, his second league goal of the season the product of a header tucked into the top corner.
Rogers thwarted both Miller and Boyd to ensure that Murray’s men were not on the wrong end of a beating, but the physical tolls of their recent endeavours might prove more problematic for Rangers’ return than any psychological scarring. Murray admitted that injury problems are likely to restrict him to four substitutes for the Scottish Cup tie. The Dumbarton manager is also looking at another restriction next week. “It is about stopping the supply to Miller and Boyd and we let them send in too many crosses, but I couldn’t say my team were poor or be angry with them. They did well at times, at the level they were up against because Rangers are a good team.”
Murray does not know if they are the best side in the Championship, though, even if the only points by leaders Hearts so far this season came with a scoreless draw at Dumbarton. “Hearts are quicker and Rangers are physically stronger,” he said. “I don’t know who will win this league but it is a two-horse race, no question.”
McCoist’s men now appear to be picking up a gallop.