Stranraer 0, Rangers 3
History was made on Saturday as Rangers came to Stranraer in a league match for the first time ever.
The Blues worked hard against their more illustrious rivals in front of a crowd of just under 3500 but were despatched by the clinical finishing that saw Rangers comfortably out of sight before the interval.
The only winner on the day for the home side would prove to be the club treasurer who had his finest afternoon for many years.
Rangers got off to a good start to calm the nerves after just five minutes as they opened the scoring. There was a touch of good fortune about the goal as Ian Black tried his luck from 20 yards, the ball deflected off Andrew Little and left Blues keeper David Mitchell a helpless spectator.
Stranraer didn’t allow the early strike to unsettle them and pressed forward in response. Mark Corcoran, who had a fine game on his first start for the club, led the charge forward and with Jamie Longworth carved an opening for Martin Grehan but he couldn’t get a shot away.
However, it didn’t take the Light Blues long to double their lead. Only 22 minutes were on the clock when a good move down the right saw Lee McCulloch find Little in space. His cross was missed by Daly but collected at the back post by Lewis Macleod, who bundled the ball into the net.
It got worse for the home side as, just eight minutes later, the visitors extended their advantage. A corner from Nicky Law wasn’t picked up by the Blues defence and Lee McCulloch bulleted an unstoppable header past Mitchell.
Credit to Stranraer, though: they never gave. A free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box from Chris Aitken tested Scott Gallacher but he produced a fine save to tip the ball away. The Blues created another chance through Corcoran but McCulloch read the play and his vital block was enough to keep Rangers clean sheet intact.
Stephen Aitken admitted after the match that one of his wishes was that his team kept things together and tried to ensure they didn’t lose the second half to at least guarantee some positives. To Stranraer’s credit, they continued to play good football and deserved to take that reward.
The visitors came close to grabbing another when a clever header from Daly fell perfectly at the feet of Shiels but despite an excellent turn to create some space, he blazed his shot high.
With both teams making changes, the momentum of the game was lost and the last half-hour was not much of a spectacle.
The Blues’ cause wasn’t helped when having been booked a few minutes earlier, Aitken fouled Templeton and picked up another caution leaving Stranraer to see out the last 18 minutes with just 10 men.
Ally McCoist was very pleased after the game that his side had begun the game so well and felt that the extra quality in the squad plus the experience gained from last year would help them to be more consistent this season. He felt that they gave away too many needless free kicks so there were things to work on and was delighted at getting a few players coming back from injury too.
Stephen Aitken was disappointed with the defending for the goals as they made it too straightforward for Rangers to score. He thought that apart from that the effort of the players and the general play they matched Rangers for long periods. He took some satisfaction from the second half performance and looked forward to getting on with the next game.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, David MacGregor, Mark Docherty, Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter (Ryan Borris 60), Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan (David McKenna 78), Jamie Longworth, Mark Corcoran (Andy Stirling 71). Subs not used: Lloyd Kinnaird, Adam Forde, Kieren Wood, Chris Fahey
Booked: Docherty, Robertson, Aitken. Sent Off: Aitken
Rangers: Scott Gallacher, Kyle McAusland, Sebastien Faure, Dean Shiels (David Templeton 58), Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Andrew Little, Ian Black (Robbie Crawford 78), Jon Daly, Lewis Macleod, Nicky Law. Subs not used: Luca Gasparotto, Fraser Aird, Barrie McKay, Andrew Murdoch, Alan Smith.
Goals: Little 5, Macleod 22, McCulloch 30
Referee: C Charleston