Fans protest as Rangers march on

THE SPFL League One title was sewn up by Rangers many weeks ago.

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The family stand at Ibrox is half empty as Rangers dump Forfar following their Scottish Cup exit at the weekend
The family stand at Ibrox is half empty as Rangers dump Forfar following their Scottish Cup exit at the weekend

And after painful defeats on successive weekends there is no longer any chance of them enjoying cup success this season.

Yet, there was a palpable tension in the air at Ibrox for the game against Forfar Athletic last night.

The rapidly escalating off-field uncertainty ensured that a largely meaningless match had a definite edge to it.

Tens of thousands of Light Blues fans have a decision to make that will have massive ramifications for the club.

They can renew their season tickets and put their money directly into the Gers' bank account. Or they can transfer their cash to a trust that has been set up by Dave King and will be released once security over both Ibrox and Murray Park is in place.

The game with Forfar was perhaps not the best place to highlight the strength of ill feeling that exists towards the current board.

The stadium was only half full on a balmy spring evening. And all that was at stake was Rangers' unbeaten league record.

But judging by the chants emanating from certain sections of those Rangers fans who did turn up, there is still significant unrest.

The Blue Order - one of the six supporters' groups who make up the Union of Fans umbrella organisation - made their feelings well known.

Messages criticising the board were belted out loud and clear from the Broomloan Road stand during the first half.

A video urging fans to renew their season tickets - and featuring archive footage and interviews with club legends such as Nacho Novo, Graeme Souness and Ray Wilkins - was shown on the giant screens at half-time.

And the stadium announcer urged those in attendance to safeguard the future of the club and book their seat for the home games in the SPFL Championship in the 2014/15 campaign.

There is sure to be much more politicking and posturing from both sides before the curtain is finally brought down on another tumultuous season in the game against Dunfermline at East End Park on May 3.

Having lost to Raith Rovers in the Ramsdens Cup final at Easter Road and then Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final, Ally McCoist was clearly desperate for his side to triumph.

He fielded arguably the strongest side available to him and made just one change to the line-up that took to the field against Dundee United at the weekend.

Fraser Aird - the winger who had been so lively in the cup game four days earlier - was rested and Nicky Clark took his place.

He slotted in behind lone frontman Jon Daly. There was a minute's silence before kick-off in memory of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough 25 years ago.

Ian Black tried his luck from long-range with a dipping shot that Darren Hill in the Forfar goal pushed over comfortably. It was a better attempt than two of those his team-mate Daly had in the first half.

The big Irishman had good chances to add to his haul of 25 goals this season in the 31st and 35th minutes after being teed up by Arnold Peralta and Nicky Law. He sliced both of them wide.

Dean Shiels looked to have won his side a penalty shortly before half-time when he went to ground in the visitors' area after a challenge by opposition right-back Mark Baxter.

However, referee Craig Charleston thought otherwise and he promptly booked the Northern Ireland international for diving.

That prompted a furious response from Shiels and the other Rangers players who remonstrated with the match official as they returned to the dressing room at half-time.

McCoist's men performed far better in the second half of the match to make it 30 wins out of 32 for the season.

Ian Black broke the deadlock with a left-foot shot from 30 yards in the 67th minute and Bilel Mohsni sewed up the triumph when he headed home from close range in the 75th minute.

Aird came on for Peralta and set up his side's third goal. His curling cross into the six-yard box, with just five minutes of the match remaining, was headed home by a diving Shiels.

Steve Simonsen, who had blown his side's hopes of Scottish Cup success with a late slip-up against United at the weekend, started his third game of this term in goals for Rangers, due to Cammy Bell still being injured.

The Englishman was hardly tested by Forfar, but carried out his duties professionally.

He recorded a clean sheet that partially atoned for his error on Saturday.

Football

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