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Striking similarities but the record has been changed

THERE will be players on the Rangers legends' circuit who might smile and roll their eyes at the loss of a record set in 1993 to their current, SPFL League 1 successors.

Lee McCulloch slides in a penalty to complete the scoring on a record-breaking night for Rangers
Lee McCulloch slides in a penalty to complete the scoring on a record-breaking night for Rangers

In obliterating Forfar Athletic last night, Rangers extended their winning run to 19 consecutive matches, moving them one clear of the post-war club record set by their outstanding 1992-93 side. That vintage built a run including triumphs in the Champions League and a League Cup final, while this incomparably poorer team ploughs through the modest third-tier opposition they face every week. They are doing so with impressive ruthlessness and efficiency.

Rangers blitzed Forfar and it is likely they will soon eclipse the club record 22-game winning sequence - in league and Scottish Cup games - set 114 years ago. Almost 39,000 turned out at Ibrox, enjoying a striker showing the sort of voracious finishing which the manager, Ally McCoist, himself delivered back in '93.

Three tidy finishes gave Nicky Clark a hat trick before half-time and he finished the night with four goals. Rangers controlled the game and constantly opened up the Forfar defence, with Clark sharp enough to capitalise. "He's a smashing lad who works really, really hard at his game," said McCoist.

First Lee Wallace's deep free-kick picked him out for a header into the top corner inside five minutes. When good work from Jon Daly found Clark in the box again his firm shot skipped up off the grounded Darren Dods into the net. The third came when Ian Black floated an elegant chip on to the face of the crossbar just before half-time. The ball rebounded into space and Clark was quicker than the Forfar defenders to react and bury the ball past goalkeeper Darren Hill.

That Rangers were 4-1 up at half-time was down to an additional goal from the impressive Wallace, whose bursting run and cut infield was familiar until he shot with his right foot rather than his stronger left, drilling the ball low into the corner.

Most Rangers performances have their moments of slackness and carelessness in possession, and even this convincing win was no different. Forfar sometimes unsettled the home defence and they even managed an equaliser to briefly peg the score at 1-1. Iain Campbell's free-kick was cleared by Rangers but only as far as Gavin Swankie, who lashed a shot into the top corner. Swankie had scored both goals when Forfar put Rangers out of the League Cup in August, but that may as well have been in another world.

Clark had his fourth when Fraser Aird's corner came to him off Bilel Mohsni's head and he buried another clinical finish. When substitute David Templeton was upended in the box Lee McCulloch had the penalty which he routinely converted for Rangers' sixth. With 15 minutes left there was a welcome return for Dean Shiels, who had not played since August because of a knee injury.

This being Ibrox, there were the usual expressions of contempt for the current board. Chief executive Graham Wallace was at his first Ibrox game and doubtless saw the section of fans holding up cards urging shareholders to vote out the directors at the AGM on December 19.

Still, this rout moved them 14 points clear . After 14 games their form remains unblemished by even a single dropped point. Could they win every league game this season? "I genuinely don't think so," said McCoist. "Anyone who was at our away games at Forfar and Brechin City this year will know how difficult it is. The away games in particular are extremely difficult. I honestly don't think it will happen. I'll settle for winning the league. And I'll stay away from any predictions which would stir up the opposition and come back to bite me on the backside."

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