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Rangers 3 Annan Athletic 0: Green milks the applause

THE flotation and then the football.

David Templeton sweeps his first goal into the Annan net. Picture: SNS
David Templeton sweeps his first goal into the Annan net. Picture: SNS

It was all about the numbers for Rangers yesterday: £22.2m raised in a share issue which closed in the afternoon, then the formality of a win with only 10 men against Annan Athletic which eased them six points clear in division three.

David Templeton scored twice and Andy Little once, but of greater significance to Rangers was the £17m raised from institutional investors and £5m from supporters. "For our fans to put in five million is absolutely staggering," said manager Ally McCoist last night.

"They've done it in the last week or so, in the week before Christmas, in a recession when money is tight, so it's another show of support for the football club. The investors and fans deserve us to use that money wisely."

They cannot spend it on players in the meantime and nor do they need to, given that this was their seventh straight win. The bother they were having in division three – and the fun that was providing for their rivals – has petered out. They have won all their league games at Ibrox by at least two goals and maintained that sequence, despite Lee Wallace being red-carded for conceding a penalty when they led by only a single goal in the second half.

For the chief executive, the money mattered most. Charles Green had emerged from the tunnel to milk the moment just before kick-off, receiving warm applause from the fans. The chief executive described the money raised as "a phenomenal achievement, unique in football".

That went down predictably well with the crowd, but from around 300 in a corner of the Broomloan Road end there was open dissent on the matter of Ibrox's naming rights being sold off. Green has previously said that he was open to the stadium taking a sponsor's name if the price was right.

The Blue Order and Union Bears fans' groups were having none of it, holding up messages saying "Always Ibrox" and chanting through Green's speech and into the match itself. Green has largely had the Rangers support eating out of his hand in recent months but on this issue there is division.

Annan's bus had broken down on the way to Ibrox, briefly threatening a delay to the kick-off. It would be too cynical to suggest they should have left it unfixed. They endured a fairly relentless bombardment here, especially in a first half which bafflingly featured only one Rangers goal.

Goalkeeper Alex Mitchell had one of those nights when he got himself in the way of the vast majority of what was thrown at him, which was a lot. Rangers' attacks often came from Barrie McKay down the left, and his crosses caused Annan all sorts of trouble. Little, Fran Sandaza, Lee McCulloch and Lewis MacLeod all had chances. The general standard of the finishing was poor from Rangers but their control of the game was complete.

Annan were breached, at last, when Rangers worked the ball to Templeton from a throw-in down their left and he ran across the box before tucking a low right-foot shot into the bottom corner.

Rangers had McKay and Little wide of MacLeod and Kyle Hutton in central midfield, with Templeton floating behind Sandaza. Annan dealt with many of the deliveries being pumped into their penalty area, but they were never likely to survive the relentless pressure being applied by Rangers. They briefly escaped to build a fine counter-attack when Chris Jardine, once on Rangers' books, exchanged passes with Michael Daly to play himself into space for a shot which tested whether Neil Alexander was concentrating.

Annan had their chance to reshape the match, and blew it. When Michael McGowan swung a cross into the box, Wallace was all over Jack Steele in the six-yard box. It was a silly piece of defending: a penalty and a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. Scott Chaplain's kick was awful, soft and easy for Alexander to save. "Initially I wasn't even sure if it was a foul let alone a goalscoring opportunity," said McCoist, who said he would appeal the red card if his view was confirmed by watching it again on television.

Playing with 10 men seemed to give Rangers impetus. Within five minutes they had scored their second when Templeton's pass put Little through to score with a shot across goal and inside the far post. Annan sagged. When Templeton came at them again, twisting and turning before curling a fine shot into their net, it confirmed that Annan were heading towards their fifth consecutive league defeat. Rangers had three easy points in their last home game before Christmas.

ANALYSIS Rangers ease six points clear at the top as football takes a back seat

THE flotation and then the football. It was all about the numbers for Rangers yesterday: £22.2m raised in a share issue which closed in the afternoon, then the formality of a win with only 10 men against Annan Athletic which eased them six points clear in division three.

David Templeton scored twice and Andy Little once, but of greater significance to Rangers was the £17m raised from institutional investors and £5m from supporters. "For our fans to put in five million is absolutely staggering," said manager Ally McCoist last night.

"They've done it in the last week or so, in the week before Christmas, in a recession when money is tight, so it's another show of support for the football club. The investors and fans deserve us to use that money wisely."

They cannot spend it on players in the meantime and nor do they need to, given that this was their seventh straight win. The bother they were having in division three – and the fun that was providing for their rivals – has petered out. They have won all their league games at Ibrox by at least two goals and maintained that sequence, despite Lee Wallace being red-carded for conceding a penalty when they led by only a single goal in the second half.

For the chief executive, the money mattered most. Charles Green had emerged from the tunnel to milk the moment just before kick-off, receiving warm applause from the fans. The chief executive described the money raised as "a phenomenal achievement, unique in football".

That went down predictably well with the crowd, but from around 300 in a corner of the Broomloan Road end there was open dissent on the matter of Ibrox's naming rights being sold off. Green has previously said that he was open to the stadium taking a sponsor's name if the price was right.

The Blue Order and Union Bears fans' groups were having none of it, holding up messages saying "Always Ibrox" and chanting through Green's speech and into the match itself. Green has largely had the Rangers support eating out of his hand in recent months but on this issue there is division.

Annan's bus had broken down on the way to Ibrox, briefly threatening a delay to the kick-off. It would be too cynical to suggest they should have left it unfixed. They endured a fairly relentless bombardment here, especially in a first half which bafflingly featured only one Rangers goal.

Goalkeeper Alex Mitchell had one of those nights when he got himself in the way of the vast majority of what was thrown at him, which was a lot. Rangers' attacks often came from Barrie McKay down the left, and his crosses caused Annan all sorts of trouble. Little, Fran Sandaza, Lee McCulloch and Lewis MacLeod all had chances. The general standard of the finishing was poor from Rangers but their control of the game was complete.

Annan were breached, at last, when Rangers worked the ball to Templeton from a throw-in down their left and he ran across the box before tucking a low right-foot shot into the bottom corner.

Rangers had McKay and Little wide of MacLeod and Kyle Hutton in central midfield, with Templeton floating behind Sandaza. Annan dealt with many of the deliveries being pumped into their penalty area, but they were never likely to survive the relentless pressure being applied by Rangers. They briefly escaped to build a fine counter-attack when Chris Jardine, once on Rangers' books, exchanged passes with Michael Daly to play himself into space for a shot which tested whether Neil Alexander was concentrating.

Annan had their chance to reshape the match, and blew it. When Michael McGowan swung a cross into the box, Wallace was all over Jack Steele in the six-yard box. It was a silly piece of defending: a penalty and a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. Scott Chaplain's kick was awful, soft and easy for Alexander to save. "Initially I wasn't even sure if it was a foul let alone a goalscoring opportunity," said McCoist, who said he would appeal the red card if his view was confirmed by watching it again on television.

Playing with 10 men seemed to give Rangers impetus. Within five minutes they had scored their second when Templeton's pass put Little through to score with a shot across goal and inside the far post. Annan sagged. When Templeton came at them again, twisting and turning before curling a fine shot into their net, it confirmed that Annan were heading towards their fifth consecutive league defeat. Rangers had three easy points in their last home game before Christmas.

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