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Old guard show no mercy to new coach in front of quarter-full Ibrox

OLD loyalties counted for nothing at Ibrox last night as Barry Ferguson's former team-mates took it in turns to pile on the pain for the novice manager in front of what was reckoned to be the lowest attendance at the ground for close to three decades.

Lee McCulloch thumps home a long-range effort last night; more worryingly for the club, it was in front of barely filled stands at Ibrox. Picture: SNS
Lee McCulloch thumps home a long-range effort last night; more worryingly for the club, it was in front of barely filled stands at Ibrox. Picture: SNS

Kris Boyd and Lee McCulloch were erstwhile colleagues of Ferguson when, in a markedly different era, they lifted the SPL Premier League title together.

It was all business last night, though, as they registered five of the goals that made this a deeply uncomfortable homecoming for their former club captain who left the club, with which he will always be most closely associated, five years ago.

Perhaps it was anticipation of what was coming to an old favourite that resulted in fewer than 12,000 attending this predictably one-sided Petrofac Training Cup tie, but Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, reckoned the way his men performed was merely a mark of respect to Ferguson and his team.

"We keep saying that the best way to show people respect is by continuing to play in the same manner for the full 90 minutes," he observed, adding that he has no doubt that last night's opposition will bounce back well.

"It's the right thing to do and it's the respectful thing to do and we did it. We maintained the high level of intensity. We kept attacking for the full 90 minutes which was pleasing."

Ferguson had commendably promised to approach their task positively, but his side were given no chance to do so in the early stages and when they did finally manage to offer a threat it was pretty much the worst thing they could have done.

Scott Ferguson did well as, taking the ball at pace on the left, he outstripped Darren McGregor and took the ball into the box before firing over a dangerous low cross. However his team-mates' eagerness to get up in support left them stretched as Clark led the counter attack, and when he pushed the ball into the path of Boyd there was an inevitability about the outcome.

The marksman generated just enough power with his right instep to beat Barclay and enough accuracy to roll neatly inside the goalkeeper's right post. Suitably in control, Rangers doubled their advantage with a well crafted goal, MacLeod slipping the ball to Lee Wallace as he got in behind Scott Durie and headed towards the bye-line. He then cut the ball back and when Boyd stepped over it to let it run into the path of Aird, he could pretty much pick his spot.

Diving to his left Barclay did manage to get his hands to the ball, but could not hold on and was helpless as it trundled over the line.With that route of attack now established, Rangers used it again soon afterwards to even better effect. Wallace played a pass into MacLeod who fired it towards Boyd again; the striker was rewarded for his unselfishness this time when Clark slipped the ball to him, six yards out, goal at his mercy.

Aird then teed McCulloch up for a more prosaic finish, the captain simply battering the ball home from the edge of the box, before turning provider for the next; he touched it into the path of MacLeod whose curling shot from just outside the box wide on the left soared gloriously beyond the goalkeeper.

On the restart, the clock clicked on to 45 minutes and referee Andrew Dallas demonstrated a capacity for mercy by blowing immediately.

Tradition decreed that he had to let the slaughter recommence, though, and while Sweeney, David Gray and Scott McManus were spared further punishment by their manager, there was little chance of their replacements significantly affecting the overall pattern that had been established.

They did show a willingness to go forward when they could, but the only real question was how much energy Rangers were willing to expend in indulging themselves further. When no more goals were forthcoming as the hour mark passed, Clark was replaced by Dean Shiels who, soon after, carried the ball 30 yards before feeding it to MacLeod, inviting him irresistibly to fire home the sixth.

Another thunderous McCulloch strike was more dependent on sweet timing than brute force - it was a right-footed shot from 22 yards out always sliding away from Barclay to take it to seven. David Templeton, who had replaced Law, then gave Boyd, unmarked 16 yards out, an easy task to complete his hat trick.

It said something for Clyde that the last of the game's nine goals was theirs; Kevin Watt cut in from the right and lashed the ball over Simonsen. The men in pink were last to leave the field as they took the applause from their doughty little coterie of supporters, but it had been a tough night for all of them to keep their spirits up.

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