A SCOTTISH Cup encounter with a part-time League Two team away from home on a pitch which was described as “terrible” this week on a miserable night in January was a potential banana skin for Rangers and then some.

Could the Ibrox club perform at their very best against Dumbarton at The Rock, avoid the sort of infamous defeat they suffered at the hands of Berwick Rangers in 1967, progress to the fifth round and keep their chances of completing a domestic treble this season alive? 

Philippe Clement’s players duly ensured they will be in the draw for the Scottish Gas-sponsored competition tomorrow evening thanks to first-half John Lundstram and Cyriel Dessers goals, a second-half James Tavernier penalty and a late Scott Wright strike.  

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Matthew Shiels claimed a consolation goal for the hosts with a couple of minutes remaining when he glanced a Ryan Wallace cross beyond Robby McCrorie. 

So were Rangers worthy winners? How are they looking after the winter break and a warm weather training camp in Spain? And did minnows Dumbarton ever look like producing a shock? Here are five talking points.  


With two outstanding cinch Premiership matches to play as well as at least two Europa League knockout round games to negotiate in the second half of the season, the last thing Rangers needed was for this tie to be postponed.

Clement would have been a relieved man when referee Alan Muir declared the pitch playable following a one o’clock inspection. The overnight thaw spared his side from a problematic fixture backlog.

The surface was, though, far from the best. The visitors’ manager had predicted at his pre-match press conference that the conditions underfoot would have a detrimental impact on the football his side played and he was right. It took some time for his charges to settle and break the deadlock.

They finally edged ahead in the 35th minute when John Souttar headed on a Todd Cantwell corner and Lundstram nodded in from close range. Dessers put them two ahead four minutes before half-time when he got on the end of a Tavernier cross and volleyed beyond Harry Broun.

The Rangers captain rounded off the triumph late on when he converted a spot kick after Rabbi Matondo had been barged over by Carlo Pignatiello. Wright got in on the act at the death. 


Clement named the strongest outfield side he had available to him – Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Souttar, Ridvan Yilmaz, Lundstram, Nicolas Raskin, Matondo, Cantwell, Ross McCausland and Dessers were all included in the Rangers line-up.

He was not, despite the fourth tier opposition, taking any chances.

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However, the Belgian gave young Scottish keeper McCrorie the chance to show what he was capable of in goals as he rested Jack Butland.

It was the first start the 25-year-old had made in the 2023/24 campaign and the first time he had featured in a competitive match for the Ibrox first team since the league meeting with St Mirren in Paisley on May 27 last year.

He did not have a great deal to do. But he produced a vital save from Michael Ruth and pounced on a loose ball in his penalty box as Finlay Gray was poised to shoot when the scoreline was still 0-0 during the first-half. 

The Herald: Scotland manager Steve Clarke is an admirer of a player who has impressed during spells at Berwick Rangers, Morton, Queen of the South and Livingston in the past and has named him in the national squad on several occasions.   

But he feels McCrorie needs to play more regularly to fulfil his undoubted potential and become a viable option for his country and he has a point.

The player should perhaps look to go out on loan during the remaining days January transfer window and increase his prospects of being involved at the Euro 2024 finals in Germany this summer.


There was no historic cup upset for the home fans to celebrate tonight – but they were rightly proud of the effort that Stevie Farrell’s men put in during the course of the 90 minutes and applauded them back into the changing room after Muir had blown the final whistle.

Sean Crighton and his team mates made life very difficult indeed for their rivals during the opening half an hour and if McCrorie had not denied Ruth after the striker had been supplied by Pignatiello then proceedings could have got interesting.  

Their goalkeeper Broun, who only got the nod when it emerged that loanee Jay Hogarth could not play against his parent club due to SFA rules, acquitted himself particularly well.


Clement has made no secret of his unhappiness at the length of the Rangers injury list since replacing Michael Beale as manager back in October.

He will, then, have been pleased to give Borna Barisic, Ryan Jack and Tom Lawrence, who came on for Yilmaz, Raskin and Cantwell respectively during a triple substitution in the second-half, as well as Wolves loanee Fabio Silva, who replaced Dessers, more game time.

He will need as many fit players as possible in the weeks and months ahead.  


Many members of the Union Bears ultras group were unable to get their hands on any tickets for this – but they still turned out to watch their heroes in action from an area of waste ground behind one of the goals.

Such devotion to their club’s cause is laudable. Sadly, they greeted the emergence of the teams from the tunnel before kick-off with a pyrotechnic display. They set of red flares and fired rockets over the perimeter fence and in the direction of the park.

A couple exploded dangerously close to where the Dumbarton players were lining up.

Representatives from the SFA, SPFL, Scottish government and Football Safety Officers Association Scotland held talks at Hampden last year about how to tackle the growing use of pyro at matches after the Dundee v Rangers game at Dens Park was delayed due to fire alarms being set off in the Bob Shankly Stand.

The sooner they roll out their action plan the better because Rangers’ appeal to the hardcore element among their vast fanbase to keep fireworks away from grounds has fallen on deaf ears.

The Herald: