Rangers gave themselves some much-needed respite with a 3-0 Premiership win over 10-man St Mirren in Paisley. The club’s former midfielder Steven Davis began his spell as caretaker manager with a 2-1 Europa League defeat against Aris Limassol in Cyprus on Thursday night and there was a sense of foreboding about the trip to the SMiSA Stadium.
Some Rangers fans unravelled banners early in the game which read “Heartless, passionless, leaderless; not fit to wear our colours”. However, the supporters were buoyed by their captain, James Tavernier, scoring from the spot in the 29th minute after Saints’ Ryan Strain was shown a red card by the referee, Nick Walsh, for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
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Abdallah Sima added a second in the 70th minute for his seventh goal of the season before Tavernier smashed in a third in the 90th minute. Rangers leapfrog Stephen Robinson’s St Mirren side into second place, seven points behind the leaders, Celtic.
Rangers are expected to appoint a new permanent manager during the international break and clearly need fresh ideas, strategy and motivation. The only radical change Davis made to the team was to give a first senior start to the young attacker Zak Lovelace, but the 17-year-old went off injured in the first half. John Souttar, José Cifuentes and Kemar Roofe also came into the XI.
In the 21st minute the St Mirren defender Scott Tanser, who signed a new contract to 2026 on Saturday, found himself alone at the back post from a Conor McMenamin free-kick but blasted his shot over, and Rangers soon took the lead.
Lovelace found space on the right and blasted the ball across goal with Strain appearing to knock it away from the inrushing Sima with a hand.
After a long VAR check, Walsh checked his pitchside monitor, sent off the St Mirren player and awarded a penalty which Tavernier converted to the ire of the home supporters.
James Tavernier celebrates making the game safe with his second goal. Photograph: Robert Perry/PA
In the 34th minute Goldson met a Borna Barisic corner with his head but the home goalkeeper, Zach Hemming, acrobatically tipped the effort over.
In the 41st minute, Lovelace limped off and he was eventually taken away on a stretcher, after being replaced by Ross McCausland.
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In added time, McCausland knocked a Barisic pass down to Nico Raskin inside the St Mirren box but the midfielder’s goal-bound drive was blocked by Hemming for a corner.
Rangers doubled their lead with a swift break, Tavernier sending Raskin scampering through the middle with a first-time pass. He squared for Sima, on loan from Brighton, to beat Hemming from close range. St Mirren were on their way to a first league defeat.
The second-half substitute Dessers, on for Roofe, ran clean through in the 86th minute only to have his unconvincing drive saved by Hemming but there was time for Tavernier to thrash in his second from the edge of the box, after his first effort was blocked, a fine goal out of keeping with most of the game.