The aftermath of Rangers’ last league outing was dominated by talk of Kris Boyd’s Championship goal drought. The man who almost single-handledly prevented Kilmarnock toppling into the second tier with 22 goals last term, has scored five times this season, but not one of them has been on the bread-and-butter business of the league.
Scorers: Rangers - McCulloch 7; Law 35; Miller 54; Boyd 63; Daly 83, 90; Raith Rovers - Scott 53
Slow to get going as Rangers have slipped nine points behind early pace-setters Hearts in the quest for automatic promotion to the Premiership, he looked a relieved man as Raith goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw fumbled his catch and almost chucked the ball over the line for him.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time in coming and we have been trying to go back to basics and make the goalkeeper work. That’s what I have been doing in training. I have been trying to hit the target, instead of trying to find corners, and that was a shot on target, but I think I can say thanks to the goalkeeper for that one.”
If it was an act of mercy from Laidlaw, aimed at helping the Rangers striker to raise his morale and get his league season going, there was no mercy shown by the Rangers players as they brought Raith Rovers to their knees in as comprehensive a demolition job as you are likely to see.
Looking back to the last time the teams met, Ally McCoist has said it was as good a performance that his side have managed in the Championship this season. This time the display didn’t necessarily trump that, and both Boyd and McCoist insisted they probably could, and should, have scored more, but, still, they rattled six past Grant Murray’s side.
They opened the scoring as early as the seventh minute when Lee McCulloch scored from a Lewis MacLeod ball. Boyd then fired a powerful shot at the keeper, but couldn’t find the net. Raith were still contesting things and they broke upfield in the 23rd minute, only for Grant Anderson to be stopped as he tried to burrow his way along the byeline, settling instead for a corner. Paul Watson headed over. The same player had another free header from another corner shortly afterwards, but again there was too much height on his attempt.
Rangers went in at half-time with a two-goal advantage, though, when a lovely ball through for Nicky
Law was slotted expertly beyond Laidlaw.
Starting the second half with some positivity, the visitors seemed to have got themselves back into things when Martin Scott’s effort sneaked under the crossbar and into the roof of the net. That was in the 53rd minute and all they needed to do was settle themselves.
Had they managed that, things might have been different, but instead they conceded another within the minute, failing to clear the decks as Kenny Miller slotted his effort low into the corner.
That was where the balance tipped in Rangers’ favour, with Raith deflated and while Miller was denied by Laidlaw a couple of minutes later and then, for a second time, in the 58th minute, those heroics were overshadowed by his howling error in the 63rd minute to snuff out any dwindling hope Raith may have harboured.
It was Law who set up Boyd, but while the striker found the target, the goal was undoubtedly down to the keeper.
“I feel as if there have been chances that I should have scored whereas that is one that you put on target and hope that something happens. I don’t think there was great power behind it and I think the goalkeeper will be disappointed with the way he handled it.”
The Scotland international was delighted to end his lean period, but said the fact that the manager had kept faith in him meant there was no danger of him allowing his own belief to wither.
“I think the biggest encouragement he can give me is that he has kept on playing me. For a manager, the easiest thing would have been to take me out the team because the last time I was here I scored a lot of goals, but maybe didn’t do an awful lot more than that, but this time I feel I am contributing a lot more to the team.
“I managed to get a couple of assists today and, for me, it has been great to take part in the team performances, but I would be lying if I sat here and said that I wouldn’t be happy scoring goals. The most important thing for me as a striker is scoring goals.”
Having put Rangers 4-1 up, the Ibrox side capitalised on Raith’s crisis of confidence. Shaky as they faced wave after wave of attack, the guests simply wanted it all to be over.
Before that could happen, though, things got even worse with Jon Daly coming off the bench to add another two goals to the tally in the final seven minutes and leave his manager to leap around on the touchline.
Rangers: Simonsen, Foster, McGregor, McCulloch, Wallace, Aird, Black, Law, Macleod (Templeton, 74), Miller (Clark, 71), Boyd (Daly, 71).
Raith Rovers: Laidlaw, Thomson, Watson, Ellis (Perry, 88), McKeown, Conroy (Vaughan, 82), Fox (Callachan, 75), Moon, Anderson, Scott, Stewart.
Referee: D Robertson.