Stenhousemuir’s defence was knocked for six, seven, then eight as Rangers cruised to victory at Ibrox.
Andy Little, Jon Daly, Lee Wallace,David Templeton and Bilel Moshni seized on the Warriors’ defensive frailties and gave Martyn Corrigan’s men no chance.
There was good fortune for a couple of the home side’s goals as the bounce of the ball fell in their favour, but the back-four was still punished for hesitancy as they froze in front of 50,000.
At times the Warriors midfield found their rhythm but it was rarely enough to give John Gemmell or Sean Higgins any possession to work with up front.
It was the dress rehearsal for the Ramsdens Cup semi-final at Ochilview next month, but it started horribly for Stenhousemuir. Rangers’ first foray forward saw a powerful tackle from Kevin McKinlay on the edge of the box penalised, though Arnold Peralta threw himself inside the box and claimed for a spot-kick. The free-kick from Nicky Law was met by a floated header by Jon Daly and sailed past Chris Smith into the top corner.
In response, Bryan Hodge fizzed a well-struck shot over the bar from 25 yards.
Rangers threat going forward was considerable, and the visiting back-four were caught flat-footed several times within the first ten minutes - a sign of things to come.
Stenhousemuir were capable of stringing passages of passing together, but - at one stage - when it did reach Sean Higgins he stumbled over the ball almost in surprise of the ball making it so far. Gemmell ran his own battle with Bilel Moshni throughout the first half without the ball in sight.
On 15 minutes Higgins’ hard-working track-back was undone by misfortune. The forward could be accused of being too cute, but after chasing Lee Wallace back into the box and nudging him off the ball, the ex-Falkirk forward had the chance to boot clear but tried to strike the ball off Wallace and earn a goal-kick. The ricochet was successful, but bounced across goal and was nodded in by the unmarked, and grateful, Jon Daly who scored his second.
Prior to that Stenhousemuir had relaxed after the early set-back and were stringing passes together well, but in their best attack, Sean Dickson was over-eager to cross after his link-up with Bryan Hodge and Kevin McKinlay. The left-back then came to the Warriors’ rescue with a Daly effort looking to have beaten Smith for the striker’s hat-trick, but McKinlay headed out of the six-yard box and fell into the net.
Rangers were guilty of over-playing at times, Andy Little spurning some good openings to take on unlikely but spectacular attempts on goal. Stenhousemuir struggled to get up the park, and when they did, they were hassled back again in a bid to retain possession.
If the second for Rangers was fortunate, the third was comical as Ross Smith fired a clearance out of the box off the back of Rangers striker Andy Little and again, the bounce fell the way of the home side and the ball hit the net.
It was the final goal of the first half, though Nicky Law hit the post with a header and Stenhousemuir finally made a challenge to Cammy Bell’s goal just before half-time.
Nicky Devlin earned a corner from Lee Wallace, and it was knocked out at the other end of the park by Bilel Moshni, but the Warriors’ third corner of the game was most threatening to the back-post where Gemmell and McMillan were penalised for climbing. Gemmell had been involved with duelling Moshni and in a flare-up seconds before the whistle, both were warned, but an injury in the second half to the striker brought the tangles to a premature close.
After the interval, Darren Smith caught Rangers out with a sprint up the right wing and though Sean Dickson was racing to support the attack, the former Motherwell man rolled the ball at goal from an incredibly tight angle and the ball rolled across goal.
Immediately Rangers scored their fourth, and yet again, the defence did Stenhousemuir no favours. The usually reliable Ross McMillan let the ball pass him in the six-yard box but the captain didn’t spot Jon Daly behind him and the Irishman headed in Rangers’ fourth.
Stenhousemuir’s promising start was gone, and Rangers again swept forward, Andy Little blasted a shot in from an angle that was kicked out by Ross Smith, but the ball was not properly cleared and broke again for Little who thumped the ball off the bar.
But the fifth was not far away and Rangers took Stenny’s attempts at getting forward and showed them how to do it.
Moments after a Devlin diagonal pass to Gemmell was stopped for offside, Ian Black did the same a minute later and picked out Lee Wallace’s run and the full-back glided into the box and gave Chris Smith no chance for the fifth on the hour-mark.
Stenhousemuir’s chances of pulling even a goal back were dealt a blow on 65 minutes when Ian Block caught John Gemmell on the ankle. The midfielder slid in on Gemmell and immediately signalled for the game to be stopped, but Colvin played advantage with Stenhousemuir on the ball. But ‘The Beast’ needed treatment and four minutes later his game was over as he traipsed off to be replaced by Eddie Malone.
On 75 minutes though, Sean Dickson picked out a charge by McKinlay and it earned a corner, but Bryan Hodge’s header was knocked over by Sean Lynch. Afterwards, David Templeton came on and was given a standing ovation from the away support - the club which gave him his break as a 16-year-old.
Jon Daly poked in his fourth, nicking it off the toe of substitute Robbie Crawford as the game wound to a close, and Templeton put his first club to the sword by scoring the seventh but did not celebrate his addition to the drubbing before Moshni hit the eighth in injury time with a spectacular strike.