KENNY Miller inspired a rampant Rangers to their biggest victory of the season and he completed his first hat-trick for over five years at the age of 36 as the Ibrox men destroyed Dumbarton.
Dumbarton - 0
Rangers - 6
Miller 42, 59, 64; Waghorn 71,
Halliday 81, Tavernier 88
Mark Warburton’s men were full of confidence after their impressive victory against Hibs at Ibrox on Monday and any thought that they might struggle to replicate that display at the sparse surroundings of Dumbarton’s Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium was swiftly blown away by a fine Rangers performance.
They were up for it from the start and although it took them to three minutes before the interval to make the breakthough, they took Stevie Aitken’s side apart after the interval and showed the vast chasm of class between full time and part time football.
The former Scotland striker added another couple to take his tally up to ten for the season, but it could be argued that he might not even have deserved the Man of the Match award.
That could have gone to James Tavernier, who not only netted, but also provided three assists. Top scorer Martyn Waghorn and Andy Halliday – who was able to play yesterday after Rangers appealed his red card against Hibs – completed the scoring, but Dumbarton were playing damage limitation from very early on.
Warburton was unable to field new signing Harry Forrester because his international clearance didn’t come through on time, but he expects to do more business in the coming days and was delighted at the display of both Miller and his side.
He said: “Kenny can’t let his standards drop and he knows that. His contribution on and off the pitch is so important and I thought he was excellent. They all want to start the games and it’s not about the XI or the 14, it’s about our squad and our staff. If we get it right then we’ll be okay come the end of the season.
“A lot of work has been done already and a lot more work will be done because we said we’ll strengthen and bring in players and that’s what we’ll do. We want to get our business done early and hopefully we’ll get a lot more done this week.”
Miller clutched his match ball at the end and stressed how he believes that win against Hibs can be the catalyst for another winning run from Rangers. He said: “That was a brilliant start to the New Year. Obviously after last week it was important to follow that with a big win and a good performance, and we got both today.
“After our big win at Hibs last week, it was crucial to come here, with a completely different atmosphere and do the job just as professionally. I still take great pride in leaving with the match ball. Obviously as a striker you want to be scoring as many goals as you can, so when you get a hat-trick it’s very special.
“We hope we keep getting stronger. We’ve come through a little poor spell of results where we knew the results weren’t good enough and performances probably weren’t up to scratch either. The Hibs game came at a great time for us.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere and a really big game for us in the context of the season. It came at a good time.
“I said before the Hibs game that I hoped we could kick on and go on a good run. Hopefully this was the start of it.”
That breakthrough came when Halliday clipped a dinked pass in between Darren Barr and Frazer Wright and the veteran striker evaded the efforts of keeper Mark Brown as he ran across goal and eventually bundled the ball home.
Miller killed the game on the hour mark when Tavernier delivered a peach of a cross which was bulleted into the net by the striker and the same double act combined four minutes later for Miller to complete his hat-trick when he collected another excellent pass from the full back and drilled a low shot into the corner of the net.
Yet another Tavernier assist saw him tee up Waghorn for a deserved goal in the 70th minute. But Rangers were far from finished yet and Halliday’s free kick took a chunky deflection which directed it past the hapless Brown.
The icing on the cake was provided by the excellent Tavernier who drilled in a fine finish which completed an impressive afternoon for the visitors.
Dumbarton manager Aitken admitted: “It wasn’t the best start to the year but you’ve got to understand it was Rangers we were playing, a team that is probably going to go on and win the Championship.”