Light Blues are just the job as they prove to be Third force

When the second goal went in against Peterhead, a tracksuited Ally McCoist turned to his bench, fists clenched, and celebrated with gusto.

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Lee McCulloch headed Rangers' opening goal against Peterhead
Lee McCulloch headed Rangers' opening goal against Peterhead

As always, the win was welcome; more so, though, the glimpse of consistency and a chink of daylight that eases a little of the pressure.

For the first time in a troubled start to life in the Irn-Bru Third Division, Rangers are now gradually pulling away to open up a gap between themselves and the chasing pack.

As McCoist himself acknowledged on Friday, his team are on something of a hiding to nothing in the Third Division; win and its expected, lose and they can expect to be hammered.

Saturday's 2-0 victory came against a Peterhead side who started positively, defended robustly and who made life as awkward as they could for Rangers but who were inevitably undone against a fitter, better side.

Goals from Lee McCulloch – his 17th of the season – and Lee Wallace ensured a straightforward day at the office, but if the reality of life in the bottom tier is starting to hit home, there was no sign of it in the Ibrox stands.

Over 48,000 fans turned up for the encounter, a staggering figure given the standard fare that is on offer. They played an active role in marking Remembrance weekend, with a giant poppy display in the stands, while the service personnel who were paraded on the pitch at the break received a gracious welcome.

Gers' only real scare came in the opening minutes when Rory McAllister clipped the crossbar, but other than that it was a relatively pedestrian display as they did what they had to do without breaking too much sweat.

Of particular satisfaction to the Ibrox manager was his teenage midfield, made up of a 17-year-old, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old. Robbie Crawford, Lewis Macleod and Barrie McKay started the match and fared well against an experienced Peterhead side.

Forced to throw untried youngsters because of a limited squad numbers this season, McCoist has been delighted at the manner in which they have risen to the challenge.

Whether or not they would have been able to clock up so many games in the top flight when there is far more pressure is impossible to know, but certainly the first-team experience they are getting just now will be invaluable.

"It is great that the supporters are getting the chance to see some of the youth that are coming through from Murray Park," said McCoist.

"It is great to see that. But it is only great to see if we continue to win and get promoted.

"I did say beforehand that one of the positives that would come out of a negative situation would be that we would certainly get an opportunity to see some of the younger lads and see what talent we have.

"They are all learning and gaining experience and that is a big plus for us."

The biggest thing for Gers now is finding consistency.

The finally broke their away duck with a win over Clyde at Broadwood, a result that was followed up with an emphatic Scottish Cup win over Alloa.

It would suggest that they are finally getting to grips with the physical nature of the games in the Third Division where teams inevitably fight tooth and nail against them, but it is maintaining the form of recent weeks that McCoist has set his sights on.

The thumping of Alloa in the Scottish Cup provides an opportunity for the Rangers side to progress in the competition and eye up a bit of silverware.

It would also raise the possibility of an Old Firm tie at some point this term, although it may be that it would be the Parkhead side who would welcome that one more than Rangers.

In any case, keeping things ticking over now is the main goal of McCoist.

This week is a break for international football before an away trip to East Stirling beckons at lunchtime on Saturday.

It may not be the most glamorous of meetings, but it is remaining on the road out of the league that McCoist is concerned with.

"I would expect better results away from home, that is what I would expect and hope for," said the Rangers manager.

"The first quarter of the season has gone and it has not been a shock for me in terms of what we have come up against and what we have seen.

"We have an unbelievably young team and they are learning. We have to get the balance and continue winning and start being a bit more consistent."

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