At least Andy Halliday has retained his sense of humour following his brushes with officialdom this term.
The Rangers midfielder returned to the starting line-up in some style last night following his enforced absence, rifling home the only goal of the game against Raith Rovers to cap an all-action display.
While his recent dismissal for a celebratory fist-pump in the direction of Morton fans was no laughing matter for Rangers, Halliday introduced some levity to the situation by marking his seventh strike of the campaign in comically understated fashion.
Firm handshakes all round were the order of the day, much to the amusement of his teammates who have also seen Halliday sent off against Hibernian for a perceived head-butt on Fraser Fyvie which was later rescinded.
Halliday, thriving in a more advanced role, also struck the post and dragged another effort wide before ultimately opening the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
The triumph ensured Mark Warburton’s side – described as “champions-elect” by Rovers counterpart Ray McKinnon before this fixture – continue their fine recent form.
Since their 2-1 defeat at the hands of Falkirk, which marked the low point of a mid-season wobble, Rangers have won seven consecutive matches, scoring 23 goals and conceding four in the process.
This latest victory, which keeps them eight points ahead of Hibernian – albeit the capital club boast a game in hand – simply never looked in doubt against an impotent Rovers side, who have now failed to score in five matches.
The win was largely achieved without any decisive intervention by Michael O’Halloran, who had to wait for his Rangers debut following his protracted arrival from St Johnstone, entering the fray as a second-half substitute.
Similarly, Harry Panatioyou, Rovers’ loan signing from Barclay’s Premier League leaders Leicester, was also restricted to a role from the bench, despite the Fifers’ chronic lack of goals.
Martyn Waghorn, who has no such problem, with 27 goals and counting for the season, wasted no time in imposing himself on the contest, brushing off a challenge by Rory McKeown on the right flank and surging into the box to force a sharp low save by Kevin Cuthbert.
Danny Wilson, who found his passing range from the outset, then set Halliday free inside the box with a fine raking diagonal. However, his scuffed shot across the face of goal was neither one thing nor another.
Barrie McKay, who was wholly underwhelming during a loan stint at Raith last season, was next to threaten for the visitors, stinging the palms of Cuthbert from the edge of the box.
Rangers were left to curse the woodwork as they turned the screw in Fife, when Halliday saw his deflected free-kick kiss the post and bounce to safety.
Waghorn forced a low stop from Cuthbert before volleying a drive inches over the bar as McKinnon’s men hung on grimly.
Somewhat inevitably, the visitors claimed the lead before the interval, with Miller sending Tavernier scampering clear down the right flank. His cross was perfect for Halliday to slot home from close range.
With little choice but to attempt to impose themselves on the game, Rovers registered their first shot on target just minutes into the second half, with Longridge forcing a low save from Foderingham.
O’Halloran was introduced after 63 minutes to a raucous welcome by the Gers support amassed in the Val McDermid Stand, but it was Rovers’ debutant Panayiotou who found the net – only for the strike to be chalked off by referee Euan Anderson following a foul on Dean Shiels.
That was to be as close as
Rovers came to restoring parity as their 45-year wait for a win over Rangers in Kirkcaldy goes on.
Referee: E Anderson