Rampant Rangers make it a night to forget for Peterhead

Only Graeme Smith kept Rangers from adding further goals at Ibrox.
Only Graeme Smith kept Rangers from adding further goals at Ibrox.

It was anything but third time lucky for Peterhead as they went down 5-0 to Rangers in Tuesday night’s Betfred Cup second round tie at Ibrox.

The game was the third cup clash between the sides in a year and in the previous two the Blue Toon gave decent accounts of themselves with only late Rangers goals embellishing the final scoreline.

But it was a different story for Jim McInally’s men this time round.

They were always hard pressed to keep Rangers at bay and only an outstanding display from keeper Graeme Smith prevented an even heavier defeat.

The visitors held Rangers at bay early on in and even found time to get two shots in on the Rangers goal, although in truth the efforts from Jamie Stevenson and Nathan Blockley were easily dealt with by Rangers keeper Matt Gilks.

But as the home side got into their stride only a terrific Steven Noble tackle prevented O’Halloran getting on the end of through ball.

Niko Kranjcar and Joe Dodoo were looking particularly lively for Gers and it was no surprise when they combined for the 19th minute opener, Croatian midfielder Kranjcar playing a one-two with the ex-Leicester City man before firing an unstoppable shot past Smith from 20 yards.

A Joey Barton drive was well held by Smith before the keeper then came to his side’s rescue by superbly diverting James Tavernier’s close range effort over the bar.

But Rangers doubled their advantage on 35 minutes when the Peterhead defence failed to cut out a Kranjcar corner and the ball arrived at the feet of Clint Hill who prodded it home from inside the six yard box.

Rangers threatened to cut loose and Smith - Peterhead’s most impressive performer on their last visit to Ibrox a year ago - again stood between his side and a hammering.

Twice in the space of a minute he denied O’Halloran and then a fine one-handed stop kept out a Dodoo effort.

Peterhead were desperate to hear the half-time whistle by this stage but were under pressure again when Harry Forrester drove at centre of the before letting fly from 20 yards but Smith was once more up to the task.

Peterhead must have been hoping that Rangers might take their foot off the gas after the break, but within a minute of the restart Dodoo fired in a low shot which brought out yet another fine Smith save.

But on 48 minutes it was 3-0 when O’Halloran turned the ball across the face of goal and Fiacre Kelleher, trying to cut it out, could only knock it into his own net.

Blockley tried a speculative shot from 30 yards which was tipped over by Gilks but on 55 minutes his involvement in the match after he was red-carded for a reckless challenge on Barton.

Peterhead’s night was going from bad to worse and a minute later they were four down.

Smith made yet another terrific stop, pushing away a Rob Kiernan header, but from the corner Hill powered home a close ranger header for his second of the night.

Rangers went five up in the 65th minute when substitute Andy Halliday pass set Tavernier free inside box and Dodoo sidefooted his cutback past the helpless Smith from close range.

At that stage it looked like a long closing 25 minutes for the Blue Toon but while Smith was called into action yet again to deny Forrester, O’Halloran and Jason Holt there was - mercifully - no further scoring.

RANGERS: Gilks; Tavernier, Kiernan, Hill, Hodson; Rossiter (Halliday 62), Barton (Holt 62), Kranjcar (McKay 62); O’Halloran, Dodoo, Forrester. Subs not used: Foderingham, Miller, Bates.

PETERHEAD: Smith, Strachan (McIntosh 53), Noble, Ross, Rumsby, Kelleher, Stevenson (Riley 53), Redman (Nassor 61), McAllister, Ferry, Blockley. Subs not used: Hobday, Brown, Dzierzawski, Samuels.