RANGERS romped into the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter finals but in season 2018-19 even apparently straightforward five-goal home wins can be controversial.

While it all seemed somewhat academic by the time an Alfredo Morelos-inspired Ibrox side had finished putting the visitors to the sword, what did we learn from another night where referees once again left Steve Clarke cursing his luck?


Considering he woke up to back pages talking about Scotland’s top-flight clubs considering transplanting foreign match officials, referee’s chief John Fleming must have been dreaming of a stress-free night. Instead, his phone must have been going with crazy.

Alan Muir must have been desperate too for a sleepy start in order to bed himself into the match but what he got was the opposite. We were just in the second minute when Eamonn Brophy was too sharp for Joe Worrall as he hared onto a lofted pass down the right from Stephen O’Donell. When he flicked it first time past the Englishman he was in for a shot on goal at least,but Worrall enveloped him with his arms, not tugging his jersey but getting his right arm and hand across his torso.

With Mr Muir’s positioning flawless, just yards away, Brophy used the contact as in invitation to hit the deck. As it was in the box and not a genuine attempt to play the ball, it seemed clear – a penalty and a red card, leaving the Ibrox side to play the remaining 88 minutes short-handed and possibly a goal down. No wonder Brophy was incensed when play was allowed to continue.


Everything seems all right in Rangers’ world when this little Colombian is around. That is 27 and counting for the club's best player for quite some time, who was pressed back into action by a relieved Steven Gerrard after suspension, even though he still has a league suspension to serve against Hamilton Accies. By the time the first half was out, he had reminded the Ibrox side of what they have been missing in two goalless outings with two goals from a combined distance of about three yards.

First James Tavernier pilfered the ball from Conor McAleny and fed Daniel Candeias into the space inside the full back. The Portuguese eliminated Killie keeper Daniel Bachmann with his low delivery and Morelos scuffed it in from almost the goalline, the Rugby Park side’s vehement appeals for offside waved away.

His second of the night was almost a carbon copy: Candeias whipping over another blistering cross and Morelos heading into the gaping net this time. The Ayrshire side were over-playing by the time No 4 and No 5 came along, Morelos finishing high into the net with his right from a Candeias pass then showing his two-footedness by steering one in with his left. He didn't even get booked, sent off or anything.


Everything which could go wrong for the Ayrshire side did. They were already a goal down and defending a corner when Glen Kamara, standing in the proximity of Bachmann, crumpled to the ground. There then ensued minutes of argument and debate after which referee Muir, on the advice of his linesman, dug the red card from his pocket and showed it at the on-loan Austrian goalkeeper, who was shown to have caught Kamara with his left elbow. From then on, Killie's cause was lost. With McEleny sacrificed for sub keeper Jamie MacDonald, it compounded things when Alex Bruce, making his first start for the club, went off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury at roughly the same time.


If comments from Steven Gerrard about a perceived lack of leadership were construed a s alight on the club’s captain, he answered them yesterday. Aside from his hand in the first goal, James Tavernier was a menace down the right all night, and was never troubled defensively. He nearly brought the house down with a stinging right foot drive which beat the keeper but bounced down off the underside of the crossbar. Glen Kamara also looks a solid addition in midfield, while boyhood Rangers fan Andy Halliday got a goal off the bench.


Job done then for Rangers, who ultimately weren't flattered by the score. But the Ibrox side’s path to the latter stages of the William Hill Scottish Cup remains awkward. All roads now lead to Pittodrie at the start of March, a powderkeg match where the Ibrox side may even be deprived their general rule of 20% away support due to police restrictions. But considering the notion that their season was on the line, Rangers and their manager handled the pressure pretty well.