A competition which previously brought them little more than embarrassment and even humiliation ended with Rangers basking in a ticker-tape celebration at Hampden yesterday as they took the latest step of their rehabilitation as a serious force in Scottish football under Mark Warburton.
Rangers - 4
Gilchrist og 18, Tavernier 40, Halliday pen 85, Miller 89
Peterhead - 0
Five days after their Championship title success and promotion to the Premiership was confirmed, the Ibrox side lifted the Petrofac Training Cup at the fourth and final attempt of their top-flight exile.
It may be a tournament they could never have envisaged taking part in before the financial collapse of 2012, but the Rangers supporters were in the mood to party as if it were a far more illustrious honour as they watched their team lift silverware at the national stadium for the first time since the League Cup final five years ago.
An own-goal by Peterhead’s on-loan St Johnstone defender Ally Gilchrist and a magnificent strike by James Tavernier gave Rangers a 2-0 half-time lead against their ultimately out-matched League 1 opponents.
The sub-standard Hampden pitch yet again had a negative impact on the quality of much of the play but Peterhead seldom threatened to upset the odds. Late strikes by Andy Halliday, from the penalty spot, and Kenny Miller added the gloss to a convincing win for Warburton’s side.
For all that Rangers’ dominance of possession merited them taking the lead, there was also an element of cruelty from Peterhead’s perspective in the manner the 18th-minute opener was scored.
Gilchrist’s aberration was in stark contrast to the robust and diligent defending up until then by Jim McInally’s team who had made some crucially timed interventions in and around their own penalty area as they looked to frustrate the favourites.
Harry Forrester saw a shot deflected over the bar after latching on to a clever lay-off by Miller, then Gilchrist provided a more positive illustration of his capabilities when he slid in to deny Tavernier who had raced on to a reverse ball from Barrie McKay.
As Rangers looked to increase the tempo, Halliday was next to threaten with a direct run across the face of the Peterhead penalty area which ended with his left-foot shot being deflected narrowly over.
But it was an unforced error by Shane Sutherland which led to Peterhead going behind. He gave the ball away cheaply on the Rangers left, allowing the evergreen and ever-energetic Miller to chase it down towards the byeline.
Miller’s low cross was intended for Forrester but met first by Gilchrist whose attempt to divert it wide for a corner instead smacked it beyond his own goalkeeper Graeme Smith into the corner of the net.
As Rangers looked to press home their advantage, Miller’s close-range header from a Halliday cross was smartly saved by Smith.
Peterhead’s problems increased in the shape of an enforced substitution in the 25th minute, Ryan Strachan limping off to be replaced by Jamie Stevenson.
Rangers found it difficult to find consistent cohesion in their passing game on the unhelpful surface but continued to create openings. McKay was a persistent threat to Peterhead down the left and he almost carved out a second goal when Lee Wallace narrowly failed to connect with the winger’s spearing low cross.
When Rangers did double their lead five minutes before half-time, it was another spectacular strike to add to Tavernier’s impressive collection of eye-catching goals for the club.
Peterhead were unable to clear their lines effectively after Danny Wilson had surged forward to initiate an attack, the ball breaking towards Miller on the edge of the penalty area.
The striker cutely flicked it into the path of Tavernier whose thunderous right-foot shot beat Smith’s dive high to his left.
If that placed Rangers in a commanding and seemingly comfortable position, Peterhead almost immediately indicated they were not a spent force just yet.
Kevin Dzierzawski’s corner from the left picked out Scott Ross, whose powerful close-range header beat Wes Foderingham but was cleared off the line by Jason Holt.
There was another let-off for the Rangers defence on the stroke of half-time when Jordon Brown was agonisingly close to converting Rory McAllister’s low ball across the face of the six-yard box.
After a scrappy and occasionally fractious start to the second half, when both teams collected their first bookings of the afternoon, for Ross and Wilson, Rangers should have put the outcome beyond doubt in the 59th minute.
Forrester did well to force his way into space on the right and then pick out Halliday with a perfect cross, only for the midfielder to screw his close-range header horribly wide.
Peterhead still retained hopes of a recovery and they almost increased a minute later when substitute Nicky Riley, who had just replaced Sutherland, drove a shot narrowly wide after some less than authoritative defending by Rangers.
Smith kept his side in contention going into the closing stages, making outstanding saves to deny Halliday and Tavernier as Warburton’s men looked to finish with a flourish.
The pressure finally told on the tiring Peterhead defence when skipper Steven Noble conceded a penalty with a clumsy foul on Holt with five minutes remaining. Halliday stepped up to beat Smith with a confident spot-kick low to the keeper’s right.
There was still time for Miller to claim the goal his contribution fully deserved, the veteran tapping in his 18th of the season from close range after substitute Michael O’Halloran’s cross from the right found him unmarked at the back post.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace (O’Halloran 67); Halliday, Ball, Holt; Forrester (King 67), Miller, McKay (Shiels 78). Subs not used: Bell, Law, Zelalem, Clark.
Peterhead: Smith, Ross, Strachan (Stevenson 25), Gilchrist, Noble; Ferry; Sutherland (Riley 58), Dzierzawski, Brown, Redman (McIntosh 64); McAllister. Subs not used: Jarvie, Blockley, Ferries, Rodgers.