RANGERS made it through to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup tonight with a comfortable win over League One Stranraer.
Goals in either half from Scott Arfield and Jermain Defoe booked Gers’ slot in Sunday night’s draw in front of a super crowd of 38,560 at Ibrox.
From the side which so unforgettably defeated Celtic at Parkhead in the club’s last competitive outing three weeks ago, boss Steven Gerrard named seven changes.
Out went Allan McGregor, the ill James Tavernier, Connor Goldson, Borna Barisic, Glen Kamara, Ryan Kent and Alfredo Morelos, with their places in the XI taken by Wes Foderingham, 18 year-old debutant Nathan Patterson, George Edmundson, Andy Halliday, Scott Arfield, fit-again Jordan Jones and Jermain Defoe.
Ryan Jack skippered the side for the first-time, while it was a special moment for Patterson – the Academy player being rewarded for a string of impressive performances in the Development Squad with his first start after James Tavernier was ruled out with an appendix issue.
Gers, as to be expected, were well on-top early-on, and Patterson came close to providing an opener for Defoe, the striker glancing a good cross from the full-back just wide.
Jones then had a headed effort which went just over the bar after Arfield did well to dig out another cross from the right.
Goalkeeper Max Currie made an excellent, point-blank save from Ryan Jack as he latched onto a through-ball from Defoe, while Steven Davis had a 25-yard drive go just over the bar.
Currie then saved with his feet from Halliday as he burst into the area from his left-back berth, while Aribo powered a 25-yarder inches wide of the right-hand post.
The chances really were piling up, and Defoe had another effort slip by that right upright again before finally the opening goal arrived on 44 minutes.
Steven Davis’ corner was won at the front-post by George Edmundson, and he did well to flick the ball into the path of Scott Arfield.
The Canada Captain took a super first touch, and then blasted the ball low, beyond Currie to at last hand the home side the lead, before Arfield celebrated in front of the Broomloan with his customary salute.
Indeed, it ought to have been two in injury time at the end of the half, but somehow Currie clawed away a powerful Nikola Katic header again from a Davis corner.
Aribo came close to making it 2-0 within five minutes of the restart after taking a sensational touch on a Jones through-ball, but his eventual, scooped effort was sent behind by Jordan Allan.
Currie made another excellent save, this time from a near-post Defoe strike before he tipped over a vicious Nathan Patterson drive from just outside the ‘D’.
Davis saw a low drive blocked by the goalkeeper, before on 66 minutes, Gers were awarded a penalty as Defoe was tripped by Adam Cummins as he tried to get a shot away.
It was Defoe who dusted himself down to take the spot-kick, and he sent Currie the wrong way to at long last hand the home side their cushion.
That was to be Defoe’s last action before being replaced by Sheyi Ojo, and he almost made it 3-0, poking an Aribo cross wide after the two combined well.
Kai Kennedy became the second Academy player of the night to make his debut, replacing Joe Aribo on 81 minutes and he almost had a debut goal in injury-time, but Cummins got a block on a Brandon Barker cross to prevent the youngster tapping into an empty net at the back post.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Patterson, Edmundson, Katic, Halliday; Davis, Jack, Arfield; Jones (Barker, 63), Defoe (Ojo, 67), Aribo (Kennedy, 81).
SUBS NOT USED: Firth, Flanagan, Polster, Mayo.
STRANRAER: Currie, Robertson, Allan, Cummins, McManus, Pignatiello, Elliott (McIntyre, 86), Hamill, Thomson (Jones, 81), Stirling (Hilton, 70), Stevenson.
SUBS NOT USED: Burgess, Hamilton, Dunn, Phillips.
REFEREE: John Beaton