Match report as Rangers end St Mirren's unbeaten Scottish Premiership start; James Tavernier opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Ryan Strain was sent off; Abdallah Sima doubled their lead with Tavernier then scoring again; the Ibrox side are up to second on goal difference
Sunday 8 October 2023 17:48, UK
Rangers ended a tough week with a 3-0 victory to end St Mirren's unbeaten Scottish Premiership start and move above them into second.
James Tavernier (30) eased the pressure on himself and the team when he fired in from the penalty spot after Ryan Strain (28) was sent off for a deliberate handball.
Zach Hemming made some fine saves before Rangers extended their lead through Abdallah Sima with 20 minutes left to play. Tavernier then made it 3-0 with a stunning strike from outside the box in stoppage time.
St Mirren's unbeaten league run is over with the Ibrox side now above them on goal difference, although they do still trail Celtic by seven points in the title race.
Rangers will appoint a new boss during the international break and the Ibrox club clearly need fresh ideas, strategy and motivation going forward.
The only radical change Davis made to the team was to give a first senior start to 17-year-old attacker Zak Lovelace - he would go off injured in the first half - with John Souttar, Jose Cifuentes and Kemar Roofe also coming into the team.
Defender Richard Taylor and striker Toyosi Olusanya were reinstated for the Buddies, who clearly fancied their chances, but there was little between the teams in the opening exchanges.
In the 21st minute, St Mirren defender Scott Tanser, who signed a new deal until 2026 on Saturday, found himself alone at the back post from a Conor McMenamin free-kick but blasted his shot over the bar.
Rangers, however, would soon take the lead.
Lovelace found space on the right and blasted the ball across goal with Strain appearing to knock it away from the in-rushing Sima with his hand.
After a long VAR check, referee Nick Walsh checked his pitchside monitor, sent off the St Mirren player and awarded a penalty to the visitors which Tavernier converted to the ire of the home supporters.
In the 34th minute, Connor Goldson met a Borna Barisic corner with his head but Buddies 'keeper Hemming acrobatically tipped the effort over the bar and the home side ultimately escaped.
In the 41st minute, Lovelace limped off the field and was eventually taken away from the sidelines on a stretcher, after being replaced by Ross McCausland.
In added time, the 20-year-old knocked a Barisic pass down to Nico Raskin inside the St Mirren box but the midfielder's goalbound drive was blocked by Hemming for a corner, which came to nothing.
There was no immediate improvement from Rangers in the second half and striker Cyriel Dessers replaced the anonymous Roofe on the hour-mark, while Saints soon brought on Mikael Mandron, Alex Greive and Caolan Boyd-Munce.
Rangers doubled their lead in the 70th minute with an unusually swift break, Tavernier sending Raskin scampering through the middle with a first-time pass and he squared for Sima, on loan from Brighton, to beat Hemming from close range.
St Mirren were on their way to their first league defeat of the season.
Dessers 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 a second from the edge of the box, after his first effort was blocked, a fine goal out of keeping with the most of the game.
Rangers' interim manager Steven Davis on Sky Sports:
"Delighted with the win. I thought at times we could have been better when they went down to 10 men, but at this minute in time it's important we look at the positives and it's a small little step in the right direction.
"A red card is going to affect every game, but they still made it difficult for us afterwards because they're so well disciplined.
"I couldn't ask any more from the boys in terms of the week and the application they've given me. We didn't get the result we wanted on Thursday so the pressure was added on a little bit, but they've come out and got a really good result for us and the fans.
"It's an opportunity to try and build on that.
"There's a couple of weeks until the next game so it gives the board a bit of time to go and work on things and maybe get someone in."
St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson on Sky Sports:
"The sending off changes the game. It was the right decision, it's a blatant handball.
"The second goal kills us and defensively it was poor from us.
"Overall I'm disappointed, it's a hard game with 11 but with 10 makes it very much an uphill task.
"Nobody can say we didn't have a go, I wanted to try and be positive and go for it but it didn't quite work.
"We deservedly got beat, but we'll regroup. The boys have been fantastic for me, they made honest mistakes today.
"People make split-second decisions and make mistakes. Ryan's made a mistake, but we'll forgive him for that."
St Mirren are away to Ross County when the Scottish Premiership returns from the international break on October 21, Rangers are at home to Hibernian on the same day.
Both games kick-off at 3pm.