RANGERS got their first away win in the league under Steven Gerrard as James Tavernier netted two late penalties for the Gers.
The result against Hamilton was in some doubt when Accies scored an 80th minutes equaliser but two mistakes from Alex Penny in the final ten minutes gave Rangers their rewards from the spot before Alfredo Morelos scored in stoppage time.
Ryan Kent had put the Light Blues into the lead five minutes before the break with a superb chip over Gary Woods. Steven Boyd came off the bench for the home side to score a worthy equaliser but in the end Rangers attack overpowered the Hamilton defence as they fell in the final stages.
After two weeks without domestic football for both sides the game was a slow starter, Rangers failed to make any major inroads in the opening period. Daniel Candeias had a half chance on 12 minutes when Alfredo Morelos touched the ball back to him nicely. It didn’t sit up properly for the Portuguese though and he dragged his shot wide of Gary Woods’ right post.
Hamilton then had double of chances which could have turned the games quickly. On 15 minutes the reinstalled Nikola Katic headed a Scott McMann cross into the path of the onrushing Aaron McGowan. The Accies right-back fired over on the half volley.
Then Fredrik Brustard drifted a cross into the back post for Darian Mackinnon to run onto. The midfielder didn’t take a touch and, despite Allan McGregor leaving space to his right to shoot into, poked it wide
Candeias turned provider on 20 minutes, curling a cross from the right to Ryan Kent at the far post. He fired into the side netting from close range.
Hamilton sent the ball up field from the resulting goal kick and then cried for a penalty when James Tavernier tussled with Mikel Miller. He went to ground but Andy Dallas didn’t adjudge the Gers captain to have been in the wrong and waved play on. Dougie Imrie took advantage and whipped a ball onto the head of McGowan who nodded over.
There was a lovely moment on 28 minutes when the entire stadium rose to remember Rangers fan Grant Armitage who recently lost his battle with cancer.
With Hamilton stringing five men across the back Rangers were struggling to find a way through. On the half hour mark Ovie Ejaria skipped around the edge of the box and came up with a low shot which forced a save out of Woods as he pushed it to safety around the post.
Six minutes before the break the Light Blues managed to get through at last. Coulibaly pickpocketed Ziggy Gordon on the right and laid off to Morelos. Then Colombian threaded a ball through the Accies backline for Kent to run onto and he needed no invitation to do so. The Liverpool loanee beat Alex Penny to the ball, latched on, and cooly chipped the ball over the committed Woods.
Mackinnon had a chance to reply for the home side soon after when McGregor punched into his path but while his shot had power it was always rising and cleared the crossbar.
Mickel Miller began the second period by causing some problems for the leading Gers. With 13 minutes gone of the half Penny played in the striker and he went through on goal with McGregor fronting up on the angle. The Gers keeper wiped him and Goldson out as the centre-half came across to cover. It was a heavy knock for the Accies man to take but the keeper’s actions averted any danger for his side and kept Rangers slim advantage.
Ejaria then produced his usual show of stunning footwork to work the ball out from underneath him at the other end. The 20-year-old’s curled strike looked like it might sneak into the top corner but Woods scrambled and tipped it over.
Hamilton should have dragged themselves back into it with 15 minutes to go. Katic and Goldson had a mix up at the back allowing Rakish Bingham in. McGregor blocked his first shot and then James Keatings pounced on the loose ball for a follow up. The former Hibs man somehow put his shot wide with the goal gapping.
Tavernier nearly doubled the Gers lead when he dragged a daisy cutter past the far post, after shooting from out of the right. That miss proved costly as Accies went on to score in their next attack. Goldson headed out into feet of Boyd who was lurking just outside the box. He skipped over an outstretched leg from Rossiter and then buried the ball into the top corner beyond the reach of McGregor.
The game then turned again before Accies could even take in their equaliser. Penny stopped a cross with the inside of his arm as Morelos looked to try and turn the ball over the line. Dallas pointed to the stop and Tavernier thundered home the resulting penalty.
Within a minute Rangers had another penalty and it came through Penny again. The defender felling Morelos just inside the area. Tavernier tucked his second spot-kick of the afternoon away without hesitation to put space between Rangers and the homeside at long last.
Morelos rounded things off as he fired into an open goal in stoppage time. Woods came out to deny Candeias, diving at his feet and the Colombian tucked home the loose ball for his 12th of the season.
RANGERS: McGregor, Goldson, Katic (Worrall 78’), Halliday; Rossiter (Grezda 81’), Coulibaly, Ejaria; Candeias, Kent (McCrorie 87’), Morelos.
Subs not used: Foderingham, Flanagan, Middleton, Sadiq
Goals: Kent 40’ Tavernier 84’ 86’ Morelos 94’
HAMILTON: Woods, McGowan, McMann, Gordon (Boyd 75’), Tshiembe, Imrie, Miller (Keatings 68’), Penny, Mackinnon, Martin, Brustard (Bingham 62’)
Subs not used: Fulton, Want, Smith, Sowah.
Goals: Boyd 80’