A deflected goal for Lewis McLeod gave the under-fire visitors victory at The Falkirk Stadium, but they were far from convincing winners. A second, buoyed by their fortunate opener added unwarranted gloss to the scoreline.
Falkirk looked more adroit and suited to Championship football than their more illustrious former Premiership players opposite with Conor MGrandles and Blair Alston in particular standing out for the Bairns.
But for all Falkirk’s neatness and first half comfort, Ranger’s clinical side came to the fore as the game ticked to a close and the Glasgow side upped the ante and gradually wore the Bairns into submission.
Even then, it took a slice of fortune as McLeod’s shot after a swarming Rangers press overwhelmed the Bairns’ defence on the counter-attack and opened the scoring aided by the unwitting Alan Maybury.
Buoyant, Rangers added another through Nicky Law from a corner, though Nicky Clark may have had the final touch on the goal-line.
Two goals looked far from predictable in a lacklustre first half which gave little indication of each side’s capabilities.
Rangers seemed anxious, willing the ball to go forward and past Jamie Macdonald rather than competent.
For Falkirk, Rory Loy was isolated and Ollie Durojaiye ineffective with only really Conor McGrandles, Blair Alston adn in flashes Alex Cooper looking threatening.
Of course, at the opposite end Kris Boyd is a persistent threat but Will Vaulks and David McCracken marshalled the defence with minimal fuss in the first period.
The Bairns came closest with a flick from Alston trundling just wide of Bell’s goal, Tom Taiwo was close in the opening minut and a last action McGrandles header clutched by Bell closed the first half.
The best chance though fell to Alex Cooper and he really should have done better when he ran onto a dreadfully under-hit defensive header from Bilel Mohsni but the forward dallied and allowed the big Tunisian to recover and prod the ball out for a corner.
McGrandles was the key man in the game seizing loose balls and not wasting any possession, but in the second half he ran out of steam.
Some neat play from Falkirk lacked the cynical knack of finding the net at the vital time that Rangers exhibited later.
Rory Loy rolled the ball across goal but had no takers, Alex Cooper had a free-kick pushed over the bar and from the resulting corner, Cammy Bell scooped David McCracken’s header off the line. The Rangers fans were furious.
Slowly but surely, after failing to inspire, Rangers moved their defence forward and with the back four on the halfway line the intensity was slowly increased on Falkirk. The defence was worn down and the Bairns were forced back.
A momentary respite was punished though. As Rangers counter attacked, Liam Dick had the chance to rob Fraser AIrd after an over-hit touch but missed his opening and the Rangers players surged. Moving the ball from left wing to right, McLeod had Lee Wallace on the over-lap but opted for a pop himself. Jamie Macdonald seemed to have it covered but a deflection wrong-footed him and the goalkeeper was slow to react and scrambled across to his left-hand post opnly for the ball to spin inside the post.
Rangers were buoyant. Falkirk had run out of energy. A second came shortly afterwards with Law thumping over the line from a corner and Falkirk were well out of it.
The second was a painful one for Falkirk, and a third was unwarranted and when Boyd thumped the ball high into the net on the rebound from a Jamie Macdonald save, the fans who just ten minutes earlier were grumbling and rubbing their foreheads in frustration were dancing, but Calum Murray settled their celebrations again by ruling the strike out for offside.