Forfar Athletic’s six game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of a full time Rangers side in a 6-1 defeat at Ibrox on Tuesday night.
Manager Dick Campbell made four changes from the draw against Brechin City in the Scottish Cup, with Marvin Andrews, Darren Hill, Ross Campbell and Craig Storie coming in for Rab Douglas, Stuart Malcolm, Gary Fusco and Jamie McCluskey.
Rangers started off the stronger side, passing the ball back and forth across the defence before Lee Wallace burst through the Loons defence in the third minute but his effort was pushed away by Darren Hill.
A minute later they took the lead, a cross from Lewis MacLeod was bulleted home by Nicky Clark, who had caused the away defence problems last season with Queen of the South.
Rangers had more chances to go further ahead in the first 15 minutes with Clark, MacLeod, Ian Black and Jon Daly all going close.
Dale Hilson had the Loons first opportunity in the 16th minute, Swankie sending him clear but he could only send his shot from a tight angle wide. Hilson was forced off in the 21st minute after going down two minutes earlier, Paul McManus replacing him.
Forfar equalised in the 24th minute with a beautiful goal, Rangers clearing a ball as far as Gavin Swankie who sent a curling effort from 20 yards into the top corner that Bell was never reaching.
It was two minutes before Rangers were back in the lead, Clark once again grabbing the goal after his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection off Darren Dods and decieved Hill.
The home side were unlucky not to be 3-1 up after poor defending allowed them to batter the Forfar goal with efforts in a thirty second period but the defence handled them before clearing.
They did get a third in the 36th minute when more defensive errors saw Lee Wallace dispossess Ross Campbell in the middle of the park and he ran at goal before lashing home into the bottom corner with a low shot.
Darren Hill had to be sharp to palm away a Clark header from close range as the home side pressured whilst at the other end Swankie was inches away from grabbing a second as a free kick on the edge of the penalty area flew just over the bar.
Ian Black tried his luck with a long range effort that smashed off the crossbar and as it did so, fell into the path of Nicky Clark and he gleefully tapped home for his hat trick.
HALF TIME: Rangers 4, Forfar Athletic 1
At half time Forfar made two changes, with Chris Templeman and Marvin Andrews coming off for Gary Fusco and James Dale.
The Loons made the better start to the second half, with Fusco, Craig Storie and Gavin Swankie all coming close to reducing the deficit.
Clark almost added a fourth for him and fifth for the home side on the hour mark but he diverted Wallace’s cross the worng side of the post.
Seven minutes later he did grab his fourth of the night, a corner from Fraser Aird was knocked into the path of Clark and he had the easiest of tap ins, almost standing on the line when he recieved the ball.
In the 70th minute Rangers were awarded a penalty after Clark was bundled over by Ross Campbell. Lee McCulloch stepped up and slotted home despite Hill getting a hand to the penalty.
The home side stepped off the gas after that and there wasn’t much happening in the last 20 minutes bar substitutions and yellow cards for Ross Campbell and James Dale.
Rangers: Cameron Bell, Sebastian Faure, Bilel Mohsni, Fraser Aird, Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Nicky Clark (Edmilson Cribari 77), Ian Black, Jon Daly (Dean Shiels 74), Lewis MacLeod, Nicky Law (David Templeton 64). Subs not used: Arnold Peralta, Stevie Smith, Robbie Crawford, Steve Simonsen (gk).
Forfar Athletic: Darren Hill, Mark Baxter, Iain Campbell, Marvin Andrews (Gary Fusco 46), Darren Dods, Odmar Færø, Ross Campbell, Craig Storie, Chris Templeman (James Dale 46), Gavin Swankie, Dale Hilson (Paul McManus 21). Subs not used: Gavin Malin, Martyn Fotheringham, Omar Kader, Rab Douglas (gk).