Michael Beale succeeds where predecessor failed as Rangers top Celtic for points during his tenure
In a game of little consequence, the stand-out performer was Fashion Sakala whose enterprise earned him the first two goals before Antonio Colak added a late third to ensure Rangers head off into their summer rebuild on a high.
The victory means they end the season with more points than Celtic in the period since Beale became manager, even if that is of little consequence when their great rivals are on course for a domestic treble and Rangers have won nothing.
The damage was all done on that front prior to the World Cup break and perhaps it might have been different if Beale had been in charge for the entire season. He will get that opportunity from August.
A stellar year has ended on something of a dip for St Mirren, their five post-split fixtures failing to yield a solitary victory. That shouldn’t take the shine off what has been an excellent campaign for Stephen Robinson’s men as they claimed the club’s highest league finish since 1985.
They looked unusually vulnerable defensively here whenever Sakala or Rabbi Matondo ran at them but again did not stint in effort or commitment, even if it led to little in the way of goalscoring chances.
There was a predictable lackadaisical last afternoon of term feel about much of proceedings, although for a few this akin to the first day at school, with St Mirren handing maiden league starts to Peter Urminsky, Caolan Boyd-Munce and Lewis Jamieson.
Rangers were along more traditional lines, with John Lundstram slotting in at centre back. There was no sign of Alfredo Morelos – denied the chance of one final outing in a stadium where he has fared well over the years – and no Glen Kamara either. The Finn’s future is yet to be resolved but you wouldn’t bank on him still being at Ibrox next season. A late run-out off the bench for Scott Arfield – another definitely moving on this summer – was welcomed by the large travelling support.
Sakala was one of the few to look semi-interested throughout a sluggish encounter and was rewarded for his endeavour with the game’s first two goals. The first arrived after 25 minutes. Ridvan Yilmaz sent him clear on the left, with the Zambian then cutting in, running by several half-hearted challenges before poking in a shot that was deflected in via Scott Tanser’s desperate lunge.
The second, early in the second period, again stemmed from Rangers’ left, Sakala motoring along the perimeter of the box before unleashing a shot that zipped underneath Urminsky. The goalkeeper really ought to have done better.
This may well yet prove to be Curtis Main’s last game for St Mirren and how they will miss his enterprise if so. There is yet to be a 40:60 tackle that the burly striker didn’t fancy as Robby McCrorie found to his cost midway through the first half, Main lunging in to meet a cross but catching only the Rangers goalkeeper to earn a booking.
The last word belonged to the visitors, Nico Raskin helping on Todd Cantwell’s corner for Colak to convert from close range.