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Warburton sure Rangers will find a ruthless edge

East Stirling 0-3 Rangers

By Andy Newport

Published 23/07/2016

Smile when you’re winning: Rangers ace Joe Dodoo celebrates after scoring his first goal for his new club during the Betfred Cup win over East Stirling
Smile when you’re winning: Rangers ace Joe Dodoo celebrates after scoring his first goal for his new club during the Betfred Cup win over East Stirling

Rangers manager Mark Warburton has no doubts his side will find their killer instinct ahead of the Scottish Premier League kick-off.

The Ibrox side all but booked their place in the last 16 of the Betfred Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win away to minnows East Stirling.

Andy Halliday tucked away a 10th-minute penalty before summer signings Josh Windass and Joe Dodoo opened their Gers accounts.

But there were a raft of missed chances on the plastic Ochilview pitch, including a Kenny Miller sitter just before the break, while the Light Blues treated the second-half like a training ground kick-about.

Former Brentford boss Warburton admits his side are still yet to hit full stride but insists there will be no holding them back once they do.

The Gers face their final Group F opponents Stranraer on Monday, with their Ladbrokes Premiership opener at home to Hamilton scheduled for August 6.

Warburton said: "It could have been more. I've not seen the stats yet but we had a lot of possession.

"Maybe we could have tested their keeper a bit more, especially in the second-half.

"But at least we kept trying to do the right thing on a difficult surface against a very willing opponent.

"You can always talk about scoring more goals but I thought we did a very professional job and now we move on to game four.

"I would agree that the longer we get into the season the rustiness will ease off and those chances will go in. Against Motherwell last week we could have scored four or five in the second-half.

"It was the same on Tuesday night against Annan and the same here. We're getting in good shape and hopefully on Monday we can finish off with a positive display."

Windass fired wide in the opening minutes before Harry Forrester did the same after Miller sent him flying in behind the home defence.

However, East Stirling's resistance lasted just a quarter of an hour.

Referee Crawford Allan was quick to spot Ross Fisher's tug on Barrie McKay in the box and the punishment was a Halliday penalty which fizzed past Darren Dolan's reach.

The only surprise was that it took until the 35th minute for the Light Blues to double their lead. Halliday sprayed the ball wide for McKay, who wasted little time sending his cross to the back post.

Windass' first shot was blocked by Adam Murray but the 22-year-old made sure he found the net with his second.

Veteran Miller somehow blazed over from 10 yards out just before the interval and Rangers were subdued somewhat after the break when Windass failed to return as he limped off clutching his thigh.

Dodoo could not make an instant impact as his first sight of goal had the sting taken out of it by a deflection.

However, a couple of clever touches from the former Leicester striker hinted there is more to come from the 21-year-old and he made no mistake late on, netting from close range after Lee Wallace laid it on a plate.

The victory means Rangers can now guarantee top spot by winning their final group match in Monday's visit of Stranraer.

"I was pleased for Josh and Joe," said Warburton.

"You saw with Josh that he was very willing to get forward. He showed real bravery, composure and technique in the first-half.

"Joe gave us some real pace as well, which is what we wanted to add to the squad.

"He's very confident in his touch too so I'm delighted for him getting his goal."

East Stirling boss John Sludden said: "In the first-half we let the occasion get to us.

"We knew that it was going to be hard with the quality Rangers have but what was disappointing was that we gave possession away cheaply when we did have the ball."

Belfast Telegraph

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