Rangers 5 '“ 0 Peterhead: Ibrox side ease into last eight
The Betfred Cup continues to prove a serene experience for Rangers who cruised into the quarter-finals of the tournament at the expense of '¨League 1 opponents who played for most of the second half with ten men.
Having won all four of their group-stage matches with a 10-0 aggregate in their favour, Mark Warburton’s men racked up another handful of goals with no reply in a last-16 tie which became even more one-sided after Nathan Blockley’s dismissal for a crunching foul on Joey Barton.
Veteran defender Clint Hill helped himself to a double as Rangers responded robustly to their anti-climactic return to the Premiership in that 1-1 draw with Hamilton on Saturday.
They were on the front foot from the start against a Peterhead outfit who arrived at Ibrox on the back of their own dispiriting 4-0 defeat at Alloa on the opening day of the league season.
Despite the hosts’ early dominance, however, it was Peterhead who managed the first two attempts on target. The shots by Jamie Stevenson and Blockley were comfortably dealt with by Matt Gilks, the goalkeeper among six changes Warburton made to the side which had failed to impress against Hamilton.
Joe Dodoo, making his first start for Rangers, was another of those drafted in and the former Leicester City striker came close to connecting with a Michael O’Halloran cutback at the end of the first genuinely penetrating move put together by his team.
Dodoo did deliver an effective touch when he played his part in Nico Kranjcar’s 19th- minute opener for Rangers. Receiving the ball from the Croatian midfielder on the edge of the penalty area, he feathered a return pass into the path of Kranjcar, who swept a right-foot shot beyond Graeme Smith into the net.
Former Rangers keeper Smith was helpless on that occasion, as he would be several more times as the evening wore on, but he made an outstanding save to touch a James Tavernier shot on to the crossbar as the home side tried to crank up the pressure.
Rangers doubled their lead ten minutes before the interval as 37-year-old Hill became the second oldest scorer in their history – behind only current assistant manager David Weir on that particular list. Hill initially appeared to get the ball stuck under his studs as a Kranjcar corner fell into his path but he recovered his composure to slide home a left-foot shot from five yards.
Smith made a couple of smart stops to deny the pacy and eager Michael O’Halloran, then Fiacre Kelleher executed a perfectly-timed penalty area challenge on Dodoo as Rangers had to settle for a 2-0 advantage at the break.
But Kelleher’s next contribution, three minutes into the second half, will not be so fondly recalled by the young Irish defender who is currently on loan at Peterhead from Celtic. In attempting to intercept a dangerous cutback from the right by O’Halloran, he merely succeeded in slicing the ball into his own net.
What was turning into a wretched evening for Jim McInally’s side became significantly more challenging when they were reduced to ten men in the 55th minute. Referee Andrew Dallas went straight to his top pocket for his red card when Blockley felled Barton with an injudicious challenge from behind.
From the free-kick awarded for the foul, Smith produced another top-class save to keep out a thunderous header by Rob Kiernan. But from the resulting corner kick, curled over from the right by Kranjcar, the keeper was well beaten by a well-placed header from Hill.
It was a case of damage limitation for Peterhead now, but their short-handed defence was breached again in the 65th minute when Dodoo was rewarded for his enterprise and industry as he met a low cross by Tavernier with an assured right-foot finish from around six yards.
Rangers could not add further gloss to the scoreline but could feel content with their evening’s work and a place in tonight’s quarter-final draw.