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Rangers Waghorn hits terrific treble as off-field issues are swept aside

Betfred Cup: Rangers 5-0 Queen of the South

By Andy Newport

Published 21/09/2016

Just for starters: Michael O’Halloran hails team-mate Jason Holt (right) after the latter’s opener for Rangers at Ibrox
Just for starters: Michael O’Halloran hails team-mate Jason Holt (right) after the latter’s opener for Rangers at Ibrox

Rangers boss Mark Warburton was again staying tight-lipped on the Joey Barton saga after seeing his side cruise into the semi-finals of the Betfred Cup.

But the Englishman insists his players have been well warned about the dangers of betting on football after it emerged that controversial midfielder Barton is facing a gambling probe.

Gers put the off-field issues to one side as they thumped Queen of the South 5-0, with Jason Holt, Andy Halliday and hat-trick hero Martyn Waghorn doing the damage.

The classy manner of his side's victory was a welcome distraction for Warburton following another testing day in which Barton was again at the centre.

The former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR player has been accused of breaching Scottish Football Association rules on gambling after allegedly placing a bet on Celtic to lose heavily in last week's Champions League clash with Barcelona.

If found guilty, he could land a ban to go with the three-week suspension Gers have already issued in the wake of last week's training-ground bust-up.

Warburton refused to go into specifics but insisted he did not have to spell out the rules to the rest of his squad. He said: "The players north and south know the situation. There is a zero tolerance policy and that has been made very clear to them."

Gers booked themselves into today's draw for the last four with exactly the kind of performance Warburton would have been looking for ahead of Sunday's trip to Aberdeen.

Holt tucked away from close range midway through the opening period before Halliday - skipper for the night after Lee Wallace was rested - finished in style just after the hour.

Waghorn then netted with three deadly finishes.

The Light Blues can expect the customary hostile reception they always receive at Pittodrie as they roll up for their first visit in four years but Warburton is in more confident mood than he was after last week's Old Firm drubbing.

He said: "The players have been outstanding, all credit to them. They've worked really hard and we're looking forward to what will now be a tough game on Sunday but we're relishing that challenge.

"After what happened at Parkhead hard work is the only way of getting better. It was a pleasing night's work. We asked them to dominate the first half and we did that completely. The only complaint from us as a group is that it was 1-0 at half-time and it could have been more."

"Sunday will be intense but that's why players come to Rangers. They want to play in these types of games. It will be a 20,000 sell out and an intimidating atmosphere and they will enjoy that. We are looking forward to the trip north."

Warburton pulled Josh Windass out of his team just moments before kick-off after the forward felt tightness in his hamstring, while a thigh issue prevented Holt from re-appearing after the interval.

But Warburton said both calls were precautionary, adding: "It's better to be safe than sorry."

Doonhamers boss Gavin Skelton was disappointed.

"I didn't think we played as well as we can in the first half," he said. "It's stating the obvious that goals change games. We were on top for the first 10 minutes but the second goal kills it."

Rangers: Gilks, Tavernier, Hill, Wilson, Hodson, Holt (McKay 45), Halliday, Kranjcar, O'Halloran (Miller 77), Waghorn, Forrester (Crooks 72)

Not used: Foderingham, Garner, Senderos.

QOS: Robinson, Hamill, Dowie, Brownlie, Marshall, Anderson (Dykes 50), Millar, Hilson, Jacobs (Pickard 68), Dobbie, Lyle (Brotherston 69)

Not used: Higgins, Rigg, Moxon, Atkinson

Man of the Match: Waghorn

Match rating: 7/10 Ref: Don Robertson

Belfast Telegraph

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