RANGERS kept alive their hopes of completing a world-record equalling eighth domestic treble this season when they beat the Ayr United team managed by former Celtic captain Scott Brown in the Scottish Cup at Ibrox tonight.

But Philippe Clement’s side were far from their best in the fifth round tie and it took a goal from Fabio Silva with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining for the Premiership high flyers to kill off their stuffy Championship rivals.

Clement made several changes to his starting line-up and his new-look team struggled to net after Borna Barisic had given them an early lead.

The home supporters in the 43,454-strong crowd grew increasingly agitated as the match progressed and only really relaxed when Wolves loanee Silva struck following good work by substitute Todd Cantwell.

But the Portuguese striker could consider himself fortunate to be on the park. He could have received a second yellow and a red for a poor challenge on George Stanger early in the second half.  

Still, the Viaplay Cup champions never really looked like conceding an equaliser and nobody could begrudge them their place in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Gas-sponsored competition.

Here are five talking points from the encounter.


Clement has shown he is not afraid to make extensive changes to his Rangers side during the fourth months that he has been in charge and his willingness to freshen things up has enabled him to successfully negotiate a punishing schedule without any major slip-ups.

But his side were nowhere near as impressive against Ayr as they had been in their cinch Premiership win over Aberdeen on Tuesday night and it was only when he pitched Cantwell, John Lundstram and Ridvan Yilmaz in to the fray that they really took control of proceedings.

The likes of Nicolas Raskin and Scott Wright will have to do far more going forward to feature on a regular basis.


A meeting with lower league opposition gave Clement the opportunity to hand two of his January signings, Oscar Cortes and Mohamed Diomande, their first starts for Rangers.

Cortes, the Colombian winger who has joined on loan from Lens until the end of the season, had come on in the league games Livingston and Aberdeen and helped his new side to record wins.

Diomande, meanwhile, had made his debut off the bench against the Pittodrie club in midweek. The Ivorian midfielder, a £4.5m capture from Danish club Nordjsaelland last month, slotted in to the playmaker role vacated by the on-form Cantwell.

Their manager stressed that it was unreasonable to expect too much of the pair at this early stage in their Rangers careers when he spoke to BBC Radio Scotland before kick-off.  

"They need to get used to the way of playing, when to do what,” said Clement. “You need games and training for that. Today is the day to take the first step. If you want to be competitive in four competitions, you need to rotate. We give chances along the way if they deserve that. That's my philosophy."

But Cortes made quite an impact on the left flank. He struck the right post with a long-range attempt early on and then tested Ayr goalkeeper Robbie Mutch from distance. He also nutmegged Ayr right back Nick McAlister to the delight of the home support. He was a deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award.

Inside him, Diomande got about the park well despite not having started a match since the end of November and was tidy in possession. He had an overhead kick nodded off the line in the second half. Both he and his fellow new boy will benefit greatly from the runout.


Clement had spoken well about Willie Collum at his pre-match press conference yesterday and even revealed that he had not been consulted by his superiors before Rangers had asked the SFA to keep the referee away from their games.

The Belgian reiterated that he thought VAR official Collum should have awarded his team a penalty for an Alistair Johnston handball in the Premiership game at Parkhead back in December.

But he emphasised that he had, unlike some directors at the Glasgow giants, no concerns about the impartiality of the vastly-experienced whistler and expressed a desire to put the episode behind him.

Rangers fans were not quite so forgiving or understanding. In the second minute the members of the Union Bears ultras group started a chant of “If you hate Willie Collum clap your hands” and many of their fellow supporters soon joined in. That was followed by a chorus of “You know what you are”.

But the crowd soon turned their attentions to the on-field action. There was even applause when Mark McKenzie of Ayr was shown a yellow card by Collum for a foul on Rangers centre half Connor Goldson in the first half.  


There was a time when a certain shaven-headed central defensive midfielder from the East End of Glasgow would have been abused and jeered from kick-off to the final whistle whenever he made an appearance in Govan.

Brown was, due to his combative playing style and occasionally antagonistic actions, a real hate figure for the Rangers support during his spell with Celtic.

But his presence at Ibrox tonight almost went unnoticed. There were no howls of derision as he took his place in the opposition before the game got underway. He gave out instructions without being targeted for much flak whatsoever.

There was, however, a huge cheer when Collum raced over to the dugout and showed him a yellow card for comments he had made to the fourth official

His side, cheered on by around 1,500 of their followers, gave an excellent account of themselves, got forward on a few occasions and could hold their heads up high when the 90 minutes was over.    


The Croatian left back has serious competition for a start in the Rangers side at the moment given how well his Turkish club mate Yilmaz has performed of late.

They Turkish defender enjoyed perhaps his best spell of form since moving to Scotland in a £4m transfer from Besiktas in his homeland back in 2022 when he was out injured.

But Barisic hid his cause no harm whatsoever this evening. He opened the scoring, courtesy of a slight deflection off of Syla’s heel, early on and forced a fine save from Mutch shortly before half-time. He was applauded off the park when he was replaced by Yilmaz.