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Rangers 3 Ayr United 0: All-star cast sticks to familiar script but catcalls ring from the wings

ALLY McCoist continues to insist there is no way his Rangers team can go through the season unbeaten.

Rangers fans delivered another anti-board protesting by flashing red cards at two intervals during the game Photograph: SNS
Rangers fans delivered another anti-board protesting by flashing red cards at two intervals during the game Photograph: SNS

Based on mounting evidence to the contrary, however, it seems the manager doth protest too much.

Rangers made heavy weather of getting out of the old Third Division last season, but there have been no similar wobbles this time around. Approaching the halfway point of the campaign, they have yet to drop a point, with Ayr United the latest opponents swept aside with relative ease to register their 20th victory in a row. So little has goalkeeper Cammy Bell had to work in recent weeks he will probably soon be eligible for unemployment benefit.

McCoist, though, believes there will be slip-ups before the season is out, although for now it is difficult to see just where or how. A squad assembled at vast expense for the third tier of Scottish football has no equal, a scenario that creates mismatches on a weekly basis.

Rangers would have to woefully underperform, and their opponents punch way above their weight, for an upset to take place, although, as Motherwell discovered against Albion Rovers last weekend, sometimes strange things can happen in football. This win was fairly perfunctory, Rangers forging two in front midway through the first half before taking their foot off the pedal, perhaps believing the points were all but secured.

That lackadaisical attitude gave Ayr some belated hope in the second period, but the visitors were wasteful in possession and never really looked like scoring, allowing Rangers to coast to another relatively straightforward victory.

"We didn't raise the tempo of the game at all in the second half, which stopped us killing off the game until later on when we got the third goal," said McCoist. "But it's difficult to be overly critical as it's another great result."

Ayr played with two in attack, but created little to get their near 1000-strong support excited until near the later stages. Following an ineffective first half, they saw more of the ball after the break but didn't make the most of their extra possession, a free-kick from Brian Gilmour that spiralled high into the stand symptomatic of a frustrating afternoon.

It was injury-time before Bell had a save to make, the goalkeeper alert enough to keep out Mark Shankland's low driven effort.

"In the first half we probably showed them too much respect, but in the second half we got to grips with things and passed the ball a bit better," said Ayr manager Mark Roberts. "I thought the third goal was a bit harsh on us."

The visitors needed to score first if they were to have a reasonable chance of causing an upset, but instead found themselves behind after just 12 minutes. It was the most basic of goals, Ian Black flighting in a free-kick towards Jon Daly who was afforded yards of space to place his header past David Hutton for his 18th goal of the season.

Less than 10 minutes later and Rangers had their second, Fraser Aird's meandering run taking him to the edge of the Ayr penalty box from where he unleashed a shot that squirted in at the near post. And that was that in terms of a contest, the pace dropping to something akin to a training match.

Lewis Macleod zipped a shot wide midway through the second half, Lee Wallace shot over and Lee McCulloch's header was well saved before Bilel Mohsni added a third from close range six minutes from time. There were the by now customary protests against the Rangers board during what was the final home match before the annual general meeting on December 19.

Supporters entering Ibrox were handed red cards and the vast majority held them aloft in the 18th and 72nd minutes while some chanted "sack the board". With ordinary fans accounting for just 12% of the club's shareholding, those inside the stadium are unlikely to greatly influence the outcome of the AGM vote, but it still served as a reminder to those directors present how far they have to go to win over the largely silent majority.

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