Rangers’ comfortable 5-0 victory over Peterhead at Ibrox saw the club reach the quarter-finals of the League Cup in front of a 27,000-plus crowd.
This game had everything the Hamilton game was missing for large spells: high pressing, a threat in behind and good movement from the front three.
Six changes were made from the disappointing draw with Hamilton and without doubt the most significant one in this fixture was starting young forward Joe Dodoo – everything that was good about this Rangers performance, he was at the heart of it.
Early on, Rangers, as expected had all the pressure. Jordan Rossiter fired wide from long range, and then Dodoo would get in behind the Peterhead defence for the first time of many on the night, but he was halted by a superb defensive tackle.
Rangers’ pressing and hunger paid off on the 25th minute and Dodoo was involved again. He played a neat one-two with Kranjcar and the Croatian whipped his right-footed effort beyond Smith.
By this point, Rossiter and Barton were strolling it – both had the tigerish attitude about their play and were giving Simon Ferry and co. in the Peterhead midfield a massive headache.
It was Barton who was at the heart of the next chance for Joe Dodoo. He fed the young striker, and he turned his defender easily, but his shot was easily gathered by Smith.
Smith was at the heroics again. And it was Rossiter who was next to show his class. He found Tavernier with an outstanding slide-rule pass down the inside-right channel, but Smith tipped the rampaging right-back’s effort onto the bar and over for a corner.
However, from the resultant corner floated into the box, there would be the most unlikely scorer – Clint Hill. He latched onto the ball in the box and after taking a touch, he found the net from a few yards out to double the lead.
The midfield were running the show and before the interval. Kranjcar, Barton and Rossiter would have a hand in three good chances. Kranjcar found O’Halloran and the winger used great pace to get beyond the defence, but he found Smith equal to his low shot.
Smith again would come out on top with his person duel with O’Halloran – this time Rossiter fed him and he was denied by the experienced stopper.
Smith would cap off a good first-half showing by getting down low to deny Dodoo after the Ghanian and Joey Barton ripped through the part-timers’ defence.
Dodoo again tested Smith after the break. He cut in and held off the attention of two defenders before finding Smith equal to his effort.
But the second goal came not longer after. O’Halloran pounced on a mistake in midfield, drove past his defender and fired the ball into the box only for Fiacre Kelleher to stick out a foot and divert the ball beyond the keeper.
As if the night couldn’t be going any worse for Peterhead, Nathan Blockley got himself dismissed after a late, late lunge on Joey Barton, which would then lead to the fourth goal of the night.
Niko Kranjcar’s floated delivery was met by the head of captain for the night Rob Kiernan, but he was left still searching for his first Rangers goal after Smith pulled off a smart save to tip it over the bar.
From that corner, Clint Hill added his name to the score-sheet for the second time, I don’t know who was more surprised – Hill or the fans.
Rangers would complete the rout on the 65th minute. O’Halloran fed Tavernier again down the inside right channel and Joe Dodoo scored the most typical of striker’s goals from just outside the six-yard box – and he deserved it for his all-round performance.
Dodoo would be involved once more before the finish, setting up sub Jason Holt, but he could only find Smith’s gloves.
It was a very professional display and Joe Dodoo’s performance was the massive positive to take from the night. But Rangers must kick on as they travel to Dens Park on Saturday afternoon.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Hill, Kiernan, Hodson; Barton (Halliday 62), Rossiter (McKay 62), Kranjcar (Holt 62); O'Halloran, Dodoo, Forrester.
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