Demonstrations of power

RANGERS strolled to a thumping victory at Ibrox, but it was overshadowed by noisy protests during and after the game against their current board.

Stenhousemuir were the seventh side in League One to be defeated by Ally McCoist’s men, who chalked up their 32nd league goal yesterday, with Jon Daly helping himself to a four-goal haul.

However, it was events off the park which will have the Rangers supporters talking, rather than the massacre on the pitch. A section of supporters who have formed the Sons of Struth protest group organised vocal and eye-catching banners and chants in the 18th and 72nd minutes to signal when Rangers were formed.

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And it became a very uncomfortable afternoon indeed for chief executive Craig Mather, finance director Brian Stockbridge and the Easdale brothers as the packed home crowd in all four stands made their feelings extremely clear.

Take your pick from a variety of banners stating Sack the Board, Action Not Apathy, Spivs Out and Give Us Our Rangers Back and there were plenty of derogatory chants about the current under-pressure board, who were labelled “greedy” in those songs. And those protests continued after the game outside Ibrox.

The protests took centre stage despite Daly’s efforts, with further goals from Andy Little, Lee Wallace, David Templeton and Bilel Mohsni in a hugely one-sided encounter.

Manager Ally McCoist was perhaps understandably keen not to discuss the protests and preferred to concentrate on his side’s superb performance. He said: “All I would ask the fans is to keep giving the team their continued support. The fans have kept the club going. They have been fantastic. Their support of the team is all we can ask for. There were issues out there which I will certainly not get involved in, particularly after this result.

“The team and the fans deserve all the credit for that performance and it is terrific we are getting players striking up bonds with the fans. All we can do is prepare the team as professionally as we can. The team is the most important thing for the supporters and that will always be the case.”

Goal hero Daly was also keen to concentrate on just the events on the park. He said: “We don’t concentrate on what goes on in the stands and we are out there to put on a show and score some goals. I didn’t really notice anything and I am just happy to score four goals. It’s the first time I’ve done that in my career.”

The rout started after just two minutes and was orchestrated by returning midfielder Ian Black, whose own three-match suspension for betting was also overshadowed. His free kick was nodded in by Daly and it was the beginning of a long, deeply uncomfortable afternoon for Stenhousemuir, who genuinely looked like they could lose double figures yesterday.

Rangers doubled their advantage in the 17th minute after a personal disaster for the visitors’ Sean Higgins. He tried to shepherd the ball out of play before deciding to clear the ball into touch. But his attempted clearance spun off Lee Wallace and floated across goal perfectly for Daly who simply headed into the open net.

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Rangers netted their third seven minutes from the break with another odd goal when Kevin McKinlay tried desperately to clear the ball under pressure, but he only succeeded in thumping the ball against Little and the ball rebounded into the net.

Daly completed his hat-trick after the break when he nodded in a Richard Foster cross and Wallace sent Rangers nap a minute after the hour mark after he slotted home a fantastic cross-field pass from Black.

Daly slid in his fourth and Rangers’ sixth from sub Nicky Clark’s cross seven minutes from time, Templeton then netted from a Daly cut-back, before Mohsni cracked in an overhead kick with the last kick of the ball to end the visitors’ torture.

Stenhousemuir manager Martyn Corrigan – who had won the Manager of the Month award and was optimistically talking about winning yesterday before the annihilation – said: “It was a sore one to take as we are 100 per cent better than that. The occasion was just too much for some players. I can’t see anyone in the league taking points off Rangers. If they were in the Premiership, they would be up there challenging.”