Stenhousemuir 0 Rangers 4: First defeat for boss Booth

Confidence has been high in the Warriors camp on the back of 12 games unbeaten
Confidence has been high in the Warriors camp on the back of 12 games unbeaten

A 4-0 defeat by Rangers proved an unlucky 13 for Stenhousemuir.

Scott Booth’s side had approached the game 12 games unbeaten, and that included a draw with Rangers, 3-3 at Ibrox.

There was to be no repeat though as first-half goals from Stevie Smith and Dean Shiels sent in the League One champions ahead at half-time and they added one each from Lee McCulloch and Nicky Law for a 4-0 finish.

The Warriors sprung a surprise by dropping Nicky Devlin in favour of rookie right-back Robbie Duncan. They had a teenager at left-back too with former Ranger Ciaran Summers on the opposite side of Stewart Greacen and captain Ross McMillan.

The youths didn’t look out of place but had no answer to Rangers goals, which came from their first efforts on target.

Ben Greenhalgh gave Lee McCulloch a difficult time at the other end, with Sean Higgins a frustrated figure as passes missed the two-goal Ibrox hero from the link-up play en route to Cammy Bell’s goal.

Greenhalgh tamely tapped at Bell from a Dickson cut-back and made several good runs throughout the first half and held off the strength of McCulloch coming through his back.

The Warriors though didn’t test Bell nearly enough, though a dipping strike from Bryan Hodge after the midfielder had robbed Ian Black gave him something to think about.

Neither though did Chris Smith have much to do until he was lifting the ball out of his goal. The Warriors failed to clear their lines after a Fraser Aird cross into the box was flicked on by Jon Daly. Sean Dickson hesitated which allowed Nicky Law to work the ball out to Stevie Smith and he thumped it beyond the Warriors’ goalkeeper.

Shortly afterwards it was 2-0 for the Glasgow side when Law, the architect of Rangers last win in the league here at Ochilview, slipped a lovely ball into the path of Dean Shiels who scampered clear of McMillan and beat the offside trap to prod in for the second.

Neat touches won Greenhalgh a corner for the Warriors but a McMillan foul on Bell was flagged and the teams were separated by two at the interval. David Rowson was replaced by Kris Faulds at the break but the change failed to bring about a change in fortune for Stenhousemuir, if anything, Rangers were more dominant in the early exchanges of the second half than they had been at any stage of the first.

However they received a huge slice of fortune from the referee John McKendrick.

Nicky Law ran one on one with Chris Smith and was challenged from behind by young Robbie Duncan. It looked from the press box he’d touched the ball as the Rangers man tumbled under the challenge but nevertheless McKendrick awarded a foul and compounded matters by red-carding the impressive full-back.

Lee McCulloch dispatched the spot-kick and Rangers should have cruised against ten men.

However Stenhousemuir stood up to the test and at times it was easy to forget there was a numerical advantage given the battling that the Warriors did, albeit in vain.

Scott Booth threw on John Gemmell for the industrious Sean Higgins and he was upset when Greenhalgh took a free-kick he had claimed after the Englishman was toppled outside the box.

Rangers put gloss on the result with a neat curling goal from Law late on, continuing his good run of form on this ground.

The visitors had been simply too good from a Stenhousemuir side which can’t, really, have been faulted and the damage done to their play-off hopes was limited by Ayr failing to defeat Dunfermline and the Honest Men only edged one point ahead of the Warriors in the run-in.

Airdrie, now safe in League One, are next visitors to Ochilview on Saturday.