super nicky to the four

NICKY Clark found his scoring touch to help Rangers brush aside Forfar Athletic and write their name in the history books.

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Nicky Clark drills home the second of his goal on his way to a hat-trick
Nicky Clark drills home the second of his goal on his way to a hat-trick

The 22-year-old striker had only netted three times for the Gers before the SPFL League One match at Ibrox last night.

It was a bitterly disappointing haul for a player of whom so much had been expected when he arrived from Queen of the South in the summer.

But he beat that tally in just one game by netting FOUR TIMES in an emphatic 6-1 victory to send his side 14 points clear at the top of the league table.

His strikes helped ensure Ally McCoist's side won their 14th consecutive match in the third tier to keep alive their hopes of a 'Perfect Season'. It also stretched the Light Blues' winning run in allcompetitions to a remarkable 19 games - a new post-war record.

There was a minute's silence before kick-off as a mark of respect for the nine people who lost their lives in the Clutha helicopter disaster on Friday night.

Banners were unfurled with the names of those who had died in the tragedy on them.

McCoist made one change to the side that had kicked off the Scottish Cup game against Falkirk three days before.

He left Arnold Peralta on the bench and started Fraser Aird on the right wing. The youngster more than justified his selection with another bright display.

The opening goal originated on the other side of the park in the fifth minute. Wallace whipped a curling ball into the opposition penalty box. Clark advanced into the area and powered a header beyond the clutches of the helpless Forfar goalkeeper Darren Hill and into the roof of the net.

The Sons of Struth supporters group had staged another protest against the club board before kick-off.

And in the 18th minute of the game, the Blue Order and the Union Bears made clear their dissatisfaction with how their club is being run by holding up banners and chanting "Stockbridge out" in a clear message to financial director Brian Stockbridge.

On the pitch, Gavin Swankie pulled one back for the visitors in 25 minutes with a fine long-range effort that left Cammy Bell in the Rangers goal with no chance. But Forfar did not stay level for long.

Wallace and Clark combined just a minute later to put the league leaders back in front, with the striker's powerful shot spinning under the body of veteran defender Darren Dods and into the net.

Wallace then netted a fabulous solo effort in 37 minutes. After going on a powerful run upfield he stroked a right foot shot into the bottom right-hand corner.

Not to be outdone, Clark bagged his hat-trick just before half-time. He was perfectly positioned to pounce after Ian Black had struck the crossbar with arching effort.

Forfar manager threw on Gary Fusco and James Dale at the start of the second half. But his substitutions could not stem the blue tide.

Rangers forged even further ahead in the 66th minute at a corner kick.

Aird picked out Bilel Mohsni whose downward header was turned in by Clark from a few yards out.

The former Aberdeen kid has a habit of scoring against Forfar and hit the target against them six occasions during the 2012/13 campaign.

Meanwhile, David Templeton replaced Nicky Law, who had a quiet evening in central midfield, and he won a penalty kick in 78 minutes when he was tripped by Ross Campbell. Lee McCulloch, who had missed a spot kick in the 2-0 win over Falkirk on Saturday, had no hesitation putting himself forward to fire it home, despite Hill getting a hand to his effort.

In the closing stages, Dean Shiels, who has been out since September, made a welcome return to action when he took over from Jon Daly.

The forward gave a reminder of what he is capable of during his short time on the park, trying his luck with a left-foot shot from 20 yards out.

Another player to return was Emilson Cribari, who took over from McCulloch at centre-half when the game had long been sewn up.

With so many players sidelined at the moment - Ricky Foster, Chris Hegarty, Kyle Hutton, Andy Little and Ross Perry - McCoist will have been heartened to see Shiels and Cribari feature.

But not as heartened as he will have been with the inspired personal display of Clark.

It was a showing that he would have been proud of himself back in his glorious heyday.

With just two recognised strikers at the club at the moment, Clark's performance augurs well for the weeks and months to come.


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