Raith powerless against rampant Rangers

Mitch Megginson fires a ball across the Rangers box in a rare Raith attack. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Mitch Megginson fires a ball across the Rangers box in a rare Raith attack. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
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Rangers 5 Raith Rovers 0

Raith Rovers became the latest victims of an impressive Rangers side at Ibrox on Saturday afternoon, and there was very little the Kirkcaldy men could do about it.

Rovers did not help themselves - they were hesitant in possession and lost goals at bad times - but there was no doubting the gulf in class between the sides.

Even Raith at their very best would have struggled to take anything from the league leaders on this form. They seemed powerless at times against Rangers’ pace and movement.

When you’re quickest player is no faster than you’re opponent’s slowest, then you know you’re up against it.

Raith would’ve hoped to get the ball up to John Daly, and use the pace of Grant Anderson and Mark Stewart to cause problems, but they were barely in the Rangers half.

On the ball, Rangers were a joy to watch, in particular on-loan Tottenham teenager Nathan Oduwa, who had the Raith players falling over themselves trying to keep up with his speed and agility.

Off the ball, the Light Blues were just as impressive as they hunted in packs, out-numbering Raith in all areas of the park to starve them of time and space, although Raith could have been so much sharper in midfield.

The result made it nine wins from nine games in charge for Mark Warburton, setting a new Rangers record, and on this form you can’t see anyone stopping them.

When asked if his side could have done anything better to stop the five-goal rout, Raith boss Ray McKinnon’s replied: “Probably not much.

“They are an exceptional team”, he added. “They are playing with extreme confidence so it was a very tough game for us.

“We won’t be judged against them this season. We just take it on the chin and move onto the next game.

“We could’ve done better when on the ball - we’re a better team than that - but it’s very difficult to stop Rangers when they are in that form.”

Raith made an encouraging start, forcing two corners inside the first minute, but they crumbled under Rangers first phase of pressure after just four minutes.

A training ground set piece move saw the hosts work the ball across the penalty box to left-back Lee Wallace, who cut inside onto his right foot to bend an effort inside the far post.

Rangers flooded forward but Raith defended resolutely, with centre-half Lewis Toshney making a number of key blocks, until conceding a second on the stroke of half-time.

Oduwa’s pass sent free-scoring full back James Tavernier marauding into the Raith box and he shrugged off Stewart’s challenge to send a low drive past Kevin Cuthbert for 2-0.

In a rare Raith attack early in the second half, James Craigen forced Rangers ‘keeper Wes Foderingham into a brilliant one-handed save to push over his powerful 25-yard strike.

But any respite for the Raith defence was only temporary as Rangers surged into three-goal lead in the 54th minute.

The outstanding Oduwa collected the ball in his own half, sprinted 60 yards, zooming past three Raith challenges with nonchalance to reach the by-line, and his cut back left Barrie McKay with a back post tap-in.

With Rangers so dominant the last thing they needed was a helping hand from the referee, but Brian Colvin awarded a soft penalty kick in the 63rd minute as Martin Waghorn fell in the box under the slightest touch from Toshney.

Waghorn stepped up to send Cuthbert the wrong way from the spot.

Toshney conceded another penalty five minutes later and there was no doubting the referee’s decision on this occasion as he resorted to swiping down Oduwa as the winger embarked on another seemingly unstoppable run towards the Raith goal.

Waghorn made it five with an identical finish to his previous spot kick.

With 20 minutes still remaining, a more embarrassing scoreline could have been on the cards, but in perhaps the only consolation Raith can take from the day, they managed to limit the damage to five.

Rangers: Foderingham; Tavernier, Kiernan, Wilson, Wallace; Halliday, Holt (Law, 61), Zelalem (Miller, 61); McKay, Waghorn, Oduwa (Hardie, 70).

Subs not used: Kelly, Thompson, Aird, Ball.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, Toshney, Benedictus, Anderson (Megginson, 62), McCord (Matthews, 56), Stewart, Davidson, Daly, McKeown, Craigen.

Subs: Laidlaw, Petrie, Bates, Ellis, Mackie.

Referee: Brian Colvin

Attendance: 44050