Martyn Waghorn sees morale soar after Rangers' six-goal haul

It is just as well that Martyn Waghorn sounded upbeat about facing Celtic in the aftermath of his team producing an emphatic scoreline to book their place in the Scottish Cup semi-final. The English striker didn't know on Saturday night that it would be Brendan Rodgers' men that would stand in their way of a final, but last night's draw creates an invidious possibility for the Ibrox club.

Joe Garner scores the second goal of his hat-trick. Picture: SNS.

There has never been six straight wins across one season in the history of Celtic-Rangers match-ups. Rodgers’ side have already chalked up three victories, and with the Scottish Cup semi-final pairings have been given the chance to add three more derby dumpings to their tally – starting with a second hosting of Rangers at Celtic Park, with their 5-1 mauling in September setting the tone of the campaign for both Glasgow clubs.

A first six-goal haul of this season that Hamilton were on the end of at the weekend Waghorn. pictured, deemed “huge” for confidence in the Rangers camp ahead of a trip across the city where they will attempt to atone for their abject performance seven months ago. Never mind they will face up to an opponent boasting 33 wins in a 34-game unbeaten domestic run.

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The 27-year-old converted a penalty with conviction on Saturday to set Rangers on their way after referee John Beaton adjudged that Grant Gillespie had made contact with Jon Toral. One of three poor calls by the officials, in only 13 minutes Rangers keeper Wes Foderingham could have walked after yanking the ball away from the feet of Rakish Bingham while a yard outside his area. Meanwhile, hat-trick plunderer Joe Garner – already suspended for Sunday’s derby – certainly should have walked for the wildest of swipes at Doug Imrie shortly after marking his arrival as a second-half substitute with a goal. A challenge Imrie deemed as of the “UFC”(Ultimate Fighting Championship) variety.

Hamilton were rightly annoyed at being poorly served in pivotal moments of the quarter-final, but Waghorn, pictured, pitched that Rangers showed a more “clinical” side in exploiting their good fortune. And it is true, with three second-half goals the product of Barrie McKay corners, under interim manager Graeme Murty the Ibrox men’s football looks a little less constipated than it did under Mark Warburton. A permanent successor may be in place for Sunday’s weekend confrontation – Pedro Caixinha being pursued for head coach as the club wait for a decision by Ross Wilson over the director of football role offered – but Waghorn maintains Rangers are better placed for a Celtic Park excursion than the last time.

We weren’t good enough on the day,” he said. “We’ve looked at it, we’ve accepted it, it’s hard to take but that’s in the past. We have a different team from then, different players, and the way we’re playing at the minute can only be good for us. We are going to work hard and do what we have to do this week and look forward to the game. We are a bit more dynamic, a lot more free-flowing. There were a lot of changes in the summer and we took a bit of time to get going. We are younger, hungrier and we all have an end goal.”

The uncertainty over the managerial situation has been offset for Waghorn by his regard for the efforts of Murty who, unlike Warburton, tends to play him. “We’ve been told the situation. We are in constant contact. Skip gets dialogue from up, from the board, and Murts is doing a great job with the boys, rallying them round, and that has shown in the last couple of weeks,” said the forward, with the home successes over Hamilton and St Johnstone inside four days following back-to-back defeats in Inverness and Dundee. “He’s full of energy, he is enthusiastic on the sidelines and he’s brought a lot of energy and self-belief into the players.

“For myself it’s the run of the games I’ve personally been looking for. Winning games obviously helps the situation and obviously helps the board as well.”

What will help Rangers find a way to cope with Celtic remains unclear.