Rangers ace Daly at home against Dundee United

RANGERS and Dundee United will have their final say on the pitch but there is plenty of talking to be done before the pair do battle next month.

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Fraser Aird (left) is congratulated by Lee Wallace and Jon Daly (right) after opening the scoring for Gers against Albion Rovers
Fraser Aird (left) is congratulated by Lee Wallace and Jon Daly (right) after opening the scoring for Gers against Albion Rovers

The war of words had already begun even before Ally McCoist's side confirmed their place in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals, with Tannadice chairman Stephen Thompson airing his grievances in the days prior to the Light Blues' replay with Albion Rovers.

Rangers emerged victorious at New Douglas Park on Monday, finally securing a last-four berth and setting up a meeting with their former top-flight rivals on Saturday, April 12 thanks to goals in either half from Fraser Aird and Jon Daly.

The fixture was always going to be a highly-charged affair given the fractious relationship between the two clubs and sets of supporters but the latest round of comments from Tayside have only added to the Light Blue legions' determination to see their side emerge victorious.

United chief Thompson and manager Jackie McNamara are unhappy that the last-four clash will be played at Ibrox with much speculation and fuss being made over United's ticket allocation.

McCoist insisted playing at Ibrox would not faze United in the aftermath of his side's Rovers triumph and former Arabs star Daly doesn't reckon the champions will benefit from playing the tie on home soil.

"I don't see it being an advantage," he said.

"It is a semi-final and a one-off game. It is going to be a great atmosphere and a fantastic battle between two good sides. I don't see us playing at Ibrox as an advantage. It will be a good game and I am sure they are looking forward to it as well.

"I don't know anything about the ticket situation, you would have to speak to Dundee United about that and ask that question to them."

The coming days and weeks could well see a compromise reached that will appease Thompson and McNamara, although there is little chance of the game being switched to Parkhead as they have suggested it should.

The debate is, of course, only possible thanks to the efforts of Daly and his team-mates on Monday evening as they overcame Rovers at the second attempt to continue their fine form this season.

It may have taken McCoist's side 90 minutes longer than they had originally hoped but avoiding one of the all-time great shocks was of paramount importance.

Daly said: "We are obviously delighted to win the tie and get through to the semi-final. We knew it would be a frustrating game again and it was.

"You have to give Albion credit, they sat in and made it hard. But we are delighted with the 2-0 victory, the clean sheet, and to get through to the semi-final."

With their place in the last four now guaranteed, Rangers fans have begun to dream about what might lie ahead between now and the end of the season.

The League One title has already been wrapped up while McCoist's side will look to add the Ramsdens Cup to their silverware tally just days before United head to Ibrox next month.

The meeting with McNamara's men will be the biggest test of Rangers' talents this term, with the chance to go head-to-head with one of the Premiership's top outfits the ideal opportunity to gauge their progress on the road to recovery.

United have knocked the Gers out of the Scottish Cup in four of the last five seasons and Daly knows nothing but their best will do if the champions are to clinch a final berth against Aberdeen or St Johnstone.

"It is going to be a good game of football," he said.

"They are a good side who have got some really good young players. It is a game that I am personally looking forward to and I am sure the rest of the side are as well.

"I am sure we will have to play as well as we can if we are going to come through the tie. It will be a difficult game.

"It is a semi-final, it is at Ibrox and it is a one-off game with a chance to get through to a final of the national cup.

"We will give everything we have on the day and hopefully it is good enough."

While the semi-final meeting will give fans of both clubs a chance to renew old rivalries, it is an opportunity for Daly to meet and greet old friends and take a stroll down memory lane.

The Irishman was part of the United side that beat Ross County at Hampden to win the competition in 2010, a moment that was the highlight of a successful career on Tayside.

There will be some familiar faces when the Arabs make the trip to Ibrox next month and the striker is relishing the chance to square up against his former club and team-mates.

Daly said: "I won't wind them up but I will have a chat with them. I still speak to quite a few of them and get on with a lot of them. They are a good bunch of boys.

"I am sure I will speak to them nearer the time and have a bit of a chat with them, and try and get their formation! It is a game I am looking forward to.

"I had six-and-a-half fantastic years at Dundee United and it is a game that I will really look forward to.

"Winning the cup with United was a fantastic achievement and you can't take anything away from that.

"We played some tough games along the way and to win it was fantastic. To get through to the final is going to be a massive ask.

"United are a really good side and we are going to have to play to our full potential on the day if we are going to have a chance of going through."

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