Second-placed Rangers hold off Hamilton fight-back

Andy Halliday (left) and Martyn Waghorn

Martyn Waghorn (right) scored twice for Rangers

Martyn Waghorn scored twice as Rangers saw off a late Hamilton Academical fight back at New Douglas Park.

Rangers went close through Jason Holt and Waghorn before the two combined to break Hamilton’s resistance, the Englishman heading Holt’s cross into the top corner.

Waghorn made it two from close range after being teed up by Lee Wallace.

Hamilton rallied and pulled one back when Danny Redmond’s cross found Dougie Imrie, who tapped in from close range.

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Highlights: Hamilton Academical 1-2 Rangers

The result ensured Hamilton’s miserable record against Rangers was extended, with the home side yet to beat the Ibrox club on league business in 78 years.

Rangers are now eight points behind Celtic on 35 points, but the Parkhead club have three games in hand.

Mark Warburton’s side were the slightly more dominant team in the first half although it was Hamilton who – until the goal – had the best chance of the 45 minutes when Greg Docherty robbed James Tavernier on the byeline.

He cut into the box, but tried a shot from a narrow angle when the cut-back was the better option.

Docherty, who had been impressive, was injured in the challenge and had to limp off to be replaced by Massimo Donati.

Then just a minute before half-time Holt cut the ball back and Waghorn’s powerful header rattled in off the bar for his second league goal of the season.

It was becoming increasingly clear that Warburton’s surprising decision to include Waghorn was spot on.

Early in the second half he scored his second. Great work down the left by Wallace set him up and he had a straightforward job of volleying the ball into the net.

Rangers were now cruising. Alex D’Acol did come close with a drive for Accies, but the visitors had a real grip on the game and Waghorn was running riot with growing confidence, setting up chances for Tavernier and twice for Garner.

Dougie Imrie (left)<!–

Dougie Imrie (left) pulled one back for Hamilton

Hamilton’s star player Ali Crawford – who is enjoying a wonderful season – was unusually quiet.

At times Accies were in pieces. They were caught on a counter-attack that saw Tavernier run 60 yards only to blast the ball over the bar with the goalkeeper at his mercy.

Waghorn was denied his hat-trick opportunity with Warburton taking him off with 14 minutes to go to give him the chance to take a standing ovation from the support.

But within a minute he might have been regretting that decision. Imrie pulled a goal back at the right-hand post, sliding the ball home just seconds after he failed to do so at the other post.

It made for a grandstand and nervous finish, but Rangers hung on, and Accies still have not beaten them in the league since 10 December 1938.

Fernando Ricksen (left) and Massimo Donati<!–

Fernando Ricksen, the former Rangers player battling with motor neurone disease, was the guest of Accies and received a warm reception from both sets of fans.

Match reaction

Hamilton player-manager Martin Canning: “We started the game really well. I thought Rangers came into it. It looked like we were going to go in at the break all square. They score right before half-time which is a good time for them to get a goal.

“The second goal was always going to be crucial. The second half started in a similar tone to the way the first half ended. They had control of the game, they were controlling the ball.

“We changed to go 3-5-2 to put two up front to try and stop them getting the ball out so easily, put more pressure on them higher up the park.

“We then concede which shouldn’t happen with Lee Wallace running in behind. We talked about it all day yesterday, we know his threat going forward from left-back and we got done with it which is disappointing. Defensively it was poor.

“Once we got the goal we gave it a go but the damage was done with the second goal.”

Rangers manager Mark Warburton: “We had a lot of new players coming in at the start of the season. Joe Garner was a waste of money three weeks ago and now they are chanting his name all night long. So give the boys time to settle in and gel as a team. They are doing that.

“Waggy (Waghorn) came back, he has been patient and he showed how good he can be tonight.”

Live Text

Match ends, Hamilton Academical 1, Rangers 2.

Second Half ends, Hamilton Academical 1, Rangers 2.

Attempt missed. Ali Crawford (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

Attempt missed. Jason Holt (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Scott McMann (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Scott McMann (Hamilton Academical).

Joe Garner (Rangers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Joe Garner (Rangers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Michael Devlin (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Dougie Imrie (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.

Darian MacKinnon (Hamilton Academical) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Andy Halliday (Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Darian MacKinnon (Hamilton Academical).

Attempt missed. Georgios Sarris (Hamilton Academical) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Foul by Lee Wallace (Rangers).

Grant Gillespie (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Eamonn Brophy replaces Daniel Redmond.

Foul by Barrie McKay (Rangers).

Georgios Sarris (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Darian MacKinnon (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Jason Holt (Rangers).

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Massimo Donati.

Goal! Hamilton Academical 1, Rangers 2. Dougie Imrie (Hamilton Academical) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daniel Redmond.

Substitution, Rangers. Harry Forrester replaces Martyn Waghorn.

Attempt missed. Martyn Waghorn (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Attempt missed. Martyn Waghorn (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

Attempt missed. James Tavernier (Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Foul by Lee Hodson (Rangers).

Scott McMann (Hamilton Academical) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Joe Garner (Rangers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Scott McMann (Hamilton Academical).

Substitution, Hamilton Academical. Rakish Bingham replaces Alejandro D’Acol.

Attempt missed. Martyn Waghorn (Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

Attempt missed. Joe Garner (Rangers) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

Attempt missed. Rob Kiernan (Rangers) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Corner, Rangers. Conceded by Massimo Donati.

Attempt missed. Alejandro D’Acol (Hamilton Academical) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt missed. Grant Gillespie (Hamilton Academical) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Foul by James Tavernier (Rangers).

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