Rangers 7 - 0 Alloa Athletic: ‘Ibrox must be a fortress again’
Rangers attacking midfielder Dean Shiels wants to see a return to the days when teams would dread coming to Ibrox, and he believes the Light Blues went some way to achieving their aim with a thrashing of Alloa in the William Hill Scottish Cup.
The pressure was on the home side heading into the third-round tie, having crashed out of the Scottish Communities League Cup to Inverness on Wednesday night. But Third Division Rangers responded in style by running riot against their Second Division visitors, and double goalscorer Shiels hopes they have sent out a strong message to anyone else who visits Govan this season.
The Northern Ireland international said: “Our home form has been good but there have been times when we haven’t been ruthless enough in front of goal and maybe defending our goal. That’s something the manager has spoken about a lot this season.
“I think when you go three or four goals up, you’ve just got to keep going and try to get the next goal. It will make teams not want to come here and play here – that’s the aim.”
As well as the 3-0 defeat to Inverness at Ibrox, Rangers were also dumped from the Ramsdens Cup at home by Queen of the South on penalties earlier in the campaign.
Shiels was pleased to avoid a third cup exit at Ibrox and bounce back from the midweek loss. He added: “It’s good when you get a defeat that you’ve only got a couple of days to put it right again.
“When that defeat happened, we looked over our faults and where we went wrong and tried to correct it in the next game. We knew this was potentially another banana skin, so we had to start well and we managed to do that.
“Cup games are just all about progressing and getting through to the next round and we have managed to do that with a bit of style.”
Shiels, Lee McCulloch and Barrie McKay each claimed a double, with substitute Robbie Crawford also finding the back of the net. As well as scoring two goals, Shiels set up a couple but was denied his hat-trick despite his fine efforts.
He said: “I shouldn’t have passed to Lee for his second! I was trying hard but I try hard to score goals in every game.
“I’m happy with two. I could maybe have had more and I hit the post but the main thing is that we are all chipping in throughout the team. It was good to see a lot of goalscorers on the scoresheet and it’s good that there are goals throughout the team.
“I’ve played better than that but it’s my job to try to assist and score goals and I’m happy I did that.”
Alloa manager Paul Hartley was baffled by the collapse of his high-flying side and demanded an immediate reaction against East Fife next week.
He said: “You could scratch your head looking for answers but the bottom line is we didn’t turn up. It’s not about blaming one individual – it was a team performance that went badly wrong.
“We need to bounce back. It’s about character now. I didn’t go through my players, I was calm, but I’m looking for a reaction and a bit of character.”
Shiels’ deflected shot found its way through a sea of bodies and into the bottom corner after just two minutes and he doubled the advantage after 21 minutes.
McCulloch was the provider with a lovely pass for the Northern Irishman and the offside flag stayed down as Shiels slotted past goalkeeper Scott Bain.
Skipper McCulloch then unleashed a powerful strike from just inside the box after 33 minutes for the third goal.
Alloa carved out a couple of decent efforts in quick succession after the break, with a well-struck free-kick from just outside the area from Nicky Low comfortably gathered by Neil Alexander and Kevin Cawley seeing his hooked attempt curl just past the far post.
Sub Barrie McKay was immediately involved in the action when he teed up a shot for Shiels, who was denied his hat-trick by the post. The teenager then pounced on the rebound and was denied by the quick reaction of Michael Doyle, who cleared off the line.
However, Rangers then found the back of the net twice in quick succession. Shiels squared into the path of McCulloch for a simple tap-in after 72 minutes, before Crawford supplied a low finish from a Shiels cut-back a minute later.
There was worse to come for Alloa when Doyle was shown a red card for a challenge on Chris Hegarty after 79 minutes. McKay then added his name to the scoresheet three minutes later with a superb shot from outside the box, before completing the rout with a well-struck drive with a minute to go.
Rangers’ Greek defender Anestis Argy-riou had to be carried off on a stretcher when went over on his ankle ten minutes into the second-half. The full extent of the injury will be assessed today but it is not thought to be a long-term problem. Manager Ally McCoist said: “It didn’t look good when he went down like that. That is the one big disappointment on what was a good day.”
McCoist also revealed that Emilson Cribari was taken off as a result of a persistent calf problem but that he should be fit when the league campaign resumes next weekend at home to Peterhead.
McCoist said: “Emilson has a problem with his lower calf that has been niggling him for a couple of weeks so we took him off as a precaution. I think Lee McCulloch’s nose was out of joint a bit when I moved him to centre-back because I think he fancied a hat-trick.”
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