Scorers: Rangers - Shiels (24) Templeton (29, 49), McCulloch (45+2, 59); Elgin City - Duff (15)
Bookings: Rangers - Black; Elgin City - Niven
In front of the weekend’s biggest attendance in Scotland, Templeton’s debut double helped Ally McCoist’s team recover from the shock of falling behind to their Highland visitors and go on to record their second successive 5-1 home win in the Third Division.
Lee McCulloch, formally named as the new club captain before kick-off, also netted twice to take his career tally through the 100 barrier as Rangers produced a significant improvement in performance level from the previous Sunday’s draw at Berwick.
Templeton was by far the biggest factor in the greater creativity of their display, albeit after a sluggish start in which Jamie Duff put Elgin ahead before Dean Shiels sparked their comeback with the leveller.
Although they had exerted a firm enough grip on this contest by the interval, the defensive vulnerability exhibited by Rangers on more than one occasion would have been a source of signficant concern for McCoist.
The loss of both of his first choice central defenders, Dorin Goian and Carlos Bocanegra, on season-long loans has left McCoist to try and establish a new-look back four. With Scotland under-21 international Ross Perry partnering recent Brazilian signing Emilson Cribari at the heart of it yesterday, it appeared anything but convincing.
Even before Duff startled the home fans with his well-taken opener for Elgin, there were signs of frailty at the back for the hosts. Perry was fortunate not to be punished for a woefully short pass back which Elgin striker Craig Gunn siezed upon but was unable to take full advantage of, the defender getting back to recover the situation.
But Rangers were made to pay for more sloppy work in and around their own penalty area when they went behind in the 15th minute. Daniel Moore’s corner from the right was not cleared properly, allowing Elgin to retrieve the ball on the left. Duff exchanged passes with Gunn inside the penalty area and curled a terrific right-foot shot high to Neil Alexander’s left into the top corner of the net.
Just as they had in their first home match in the Third Division against East Stirlingshire two weeks earlier, Rangers found themselves with a deficit to retrieve. Even for their supporters, who are starting to come to terms with the club’s new status, it must have felt both surreal and uncomfortable.
But the home team, while struggling to find any sustained rhythm, produced a robust response to turn the situation around and put themselves ahead before the half-hour mark.
The equaliser came in the 24th minute, Shiels marking his return from injury with his second goal of the season. From his left-wing corner, Andrew Little struck Elgin goalkeeper John Gibson’s left hand post with a firm header. Rangers secured the loose ball and when McCulloch’s shot was deflected into the path of Shiels, he tucked home a simple right-foot finish from close range.
Elgin had a penalty claim for handball against Lee Wallace rebuffed by referee David Somers as they continued to show attacking ambition, but they were cut open at the back when Templeton made it 2-1 with his first goal.
The winger had quickly renewed his understanding with former Hearts team-mate Ian Black who set up the opportunity with a precise low pass into the penalty area. Templeton cut inside on to his right foot, prompting Elgin captain David Niven to commit himself and leave the space for the home debutant to bend a shot beyond Gibson’s left hand from around ten yards.
The Rangers support had quickly warmed to Templeton’s clever footwork and direct running. He earned their approval again with a 20-yard shot wich was well saved by Gibson, then had a hand in his team’s third goal on the stroke of half-time. On this occasion, Gibson did not deal with Templeton’s long-range shot so efficiently, managing only to parry the ball out to McCulloch whose 100th career goal was as easy as any he has ever scored.
Templeton further endeared himself to his new fan club when he made it 4-1 for Rangers four minutes into the second half. Shiels curled in a corner from the left and Templeton spun on the edge of the six yard area to smash a shot beyond the exposed Gibson.
When McCulloch added his second of the afternoon to further extend the lead in the 59th minute, tapping in Little’s low right wing cross from close range, it seemed that Elgin could be heading for a seriously heavy defeat.
Rangers: Alexander, Argyriou, Cribari, Perry, Wallace; Black (Faure 67), Macleod; Little (McKay 63), Shiels, Templeton (Kyle 76); McCulloch. Subs not used: Gallacher, Crawford.
Elgin City: Gibson, Niven, Duff, Crighton, McMullan (Leslie 63); Cameron, O’Donoghue, Nicolson, Moore; Gunn (Beveridge 81), Wyness (Millar 75). Subs not
used: Black, McLean.