Rangers vs Stirling Albion. Scottish Cup Fourth Round.
Match report as goals from Alex Lowry, James Tavernier, Cedric Itten and Fashion Sakala put Rangers in the hat for the next round
Saturday 22 January 2022 08:20, UK
Alex Lowry scored a dream debut goal while James Tavernier scored and missed a penalty as Rangers swept Stirling Albion 4-0 in the Scottish Cup.
The 18-year-old midfielder replaced the injured Ianis Hagi early in the fourth-round tie and gave the home fans a glimpse of the future in the 31st minute with a well-taken finish.
Skipper Tavernier added a second with a penalty in the 37th minute then had another spot-kick saved two minutes later by Binos 'keeper Blair Currie, who had come through the Light Blues' youth ranks.
Striker Cedric Itten slotted in a third from six yards in the 59th minute before Fashion Sakala added a fourth in the 86th minute to put more gloss on the scoreline.
Following the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen on Tuesday, Gers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst rang the changes for the visit of the League Two team.
Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, Jack Simpson, Leon Balogun, John Lundstram, Juninho Bacuna, Sakala and Itten were handed starts, as was Brandon Barker who was making his first appearance of the season.
Despite so many first-choice players missing, a comfortable home win against the visiting part-timers was expected but the early part of the match was a bit disjointed.
There was an early blow for the home side when Hagi limped off after 12 minutes following a tackle with Albion defender Jordan McGregor, to be replaced by Lowry.
Rangers should have scored in the 17th minute when Tavernier's cross from the right found Itten but the ball came off the striker's thigh from about a yard out before Currie clawed it away from the line.
At the other end moments later, Albion midfielder Raymond Grant curled a shot from just outside the box just over the bar.
The Govan side then asserted themselves. Lundstram had a decent shot from distance saved by Currie before the skilful Lowry made his mark when, from inside the box, he slotted a pass from Bacuna into the bottom corner.
Next came two Gers penalties in two minutes.
Referee John Beaton first pointed to the spot when Tavernier's corner struck McGregor's arm and the Gers captain drove his penalty low past Currie.
Tavernier had another opportunity when Barker was upended in the box by defender Mason Hancock but this time his shot to the same side was blocked by the diving Currie.
Darren Young's side, organised and hard-working in the first half, found the second period more exacting as Rangers dominated possession.
McGregor brilliantly blocked a goal-bound strike from Tavernier, Currie saved a half-volley from Sakala and from the resultant corner tipped a header from Balogun over the bar.
But the Albion 'keeper was beaten again just before the hour mark when Itten turned on a pass from Lundstram and fired in from close range.
The traffic continued mostly towards the Stirling goal although in the 84th minute McLaughlin was forced into a good save from substitute Dylan Mackin's powerful drive before Rangers ran up the park to score a fourth through Sakala, who burst into the Albion box and curled his shot past Currie.