Windass and Tavernier fire Rangers to Premiership win over Partick Thistle
Strikes from Josh Windass and James Tavernier gave Rangers a business-like 2-0 Ladbrokes Premiership win at Partick Thistle.
A clinical finish by attacker Windass in the 38th minute had Graeme Murty's side ahead at the interval at The Energy Check Stadium, with the home side frustrated when a shot by returning striker Conor Sammon just before half-time rebounded off the post and stayed out.
With another moment of quality in the 58th minute right-back Tavernier doubled the Light Blues' lead with a 20-yard drive to take the Ibrox men to within three points of second-placed Aberdeen, leaving
the Jags one point above second-bottom Hamilton.
Thistle's first-half display provided promise for manager Alan Archibald.
Sammon, with five goals in his previous four games, looked confident and lively, and in the seventh minute he latched on to a Blair Spittal pass but his shot from close range was blocked by Gers keeper Wes Foderingham for a corner. The Irishman then missed the target with a drive from similar distance seconds later.
On a bitterly cold night in Maryhill, Rangers slowly worked their way into the game and in the 25th minute missed a good chance.
An inswinging free-kick by midfielder Sean Goss was headed wide by Russell Martin from six yards out when it looked like the on-loan defender should have at least hit the target.
It was a let-off for the Maryhill men who came back strongly and six minutes later attacker Ryan Edwards ran on to a Sammon head-flick and volleyed the ball into the Light Blues' net but the offside flag was up.
It was the Govan side who forged ahead with a sweeping move which saw Jason Cummings, back in for Alfredo Morelos, pass to Daniel Candeias wide on the right, and when he quickly slid the ball into the box Windass instantly drove it high past Thistle goalkeeper Tomas Cerny.
The home side responded again and seconds before the interval it looked like Sammon had levelled with a low drive from 14 yards, but the ball struck the far post and bounced back across the goal before the visitors scrambled it to safety.
Rangers, with Andy Halliday on for left-back Declan John, started the second half brightly.
In the 51st minute Cerny had to race from his line to thwart Tavernier after the Gers defender had worked a one-two with Jamie Murphy inside the Thistle box.
However, Cerny had no chance with Tavernier's next effort just before the hour mark, when he took a Windass pass before sending a drive from 20 yards dipping in under the bar.
The game stretched as Thistle went in search of a goal to bring them back into the reckoning.
However, Rangers were composed and assured in the final stages and gave Thistle little encouragement.
In the 83rd minute Foderingham made a save from Miles Storey following a Partick corner but that aside, the game petered out to conclusion.