Steven Naismith was confined to a late cameo role as a substitute yesterday after his move to Rangers just before Friday's transfer window deadline and his new side left it equally late to take care of business against stubborn Gretna.
The £2 million signing was waiting to get on as a Carlos Cuellar header and an own goal from Aurélien Collin, within two minutes of each other, added an unrealistic look to the scoreline. The result gave Rangers a fifth successive win to keep them at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
The Rangers players were given a warm ovation from the Ibrox crowd before the start of the contest, in recognition of their overcoming Red Star Belgrade in midweek to qualify for the Champions League group stage. The subsequent pairing with Barcelona, Lyon and Stuttgart has merely heightened the air of anticipation.
However, that feeling did not take long to evaporate. Walter Smith's side were frustrated in the first half, contributing little until Kris Boyd made a fortuitous breakthrough eight minutes before the interval.
The hosts' tempo, and perhaps attitude, was suspect but Gretna could not be accused of the same flaw. The promoted side's organisation and work-rate were a credit to David Irons, the manager, as they denied the leaders any space.
Indeed, Gretna only needed five minutes to get a shot on target, with Allan McGregor saving from Fabian Yantorno and the little Uruguayan linked superbly with Gavin Skelton a quarter of an hour later, to release the left-back and Skelton was denied only because Daniel Cousin applied pressure before McGregor held his shot.
It required a slip, literally, by Collin, to undo Gretna. The defender was forced to compensate for his fall by bringing down Cousin, conceding a free-kick that Boyd drilled in, the ball taking a wicked deflection to send Greg Fleming the wrong way.
Gretna, though, almost equalised in the 42nd minute when Yantorno burst into the box and was denied only by the vigilance of the sliding Alan Hutton. Gretna continued to carry the contest to Rangers, especially through the clever Yantorno, but their resistance was crushed when Andy Webster put the leaders 2-0 ahead in the 63rd minute.
The Scotland defender was making his debut, despite arriving on loan from Wigan in January, because of a knee injury suffered in his first training session. Webster rose to meet DaMarcus Beasley's corner and his header was pushed on to the underside of the bar and bounced in. Webster's defensive partner, Cuellar, then added an identical goal in the 81st minute. This time it was a Barry Ferguson free-kick that allowed the Spaniard to profit. Gretna's pain was compounded when poor Collin scored an unfortunate own goal, trying to head clear after Jean-Claude Darcheville fashioned a cutback.Reuse content