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Hardie shines as classy Gers overcome Hibs

Rangers FC 3

McCrorie 49' Hardie 66' 68'

Hibernian FC 0

Martin McConnell | YFS South Lanarkshire Senior Reporter
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Rangers hadn’t played since late September, and maybe this was the reason why their first half performance wasn't anywhere near their second half display. The second 45 minute display from Rangers was something completely different, and blew away a Hibernian side that was very much in the game until that point.
 
Three quick goals in under twenty minutes left Hibs reeling, and memories of last week’s victory against Aberdeen were soon to be history. Rangers captain Ross McCrorie headed the opener, then Ryan Hardie scored two quick fire goals in a manner that had the Rangers fans purring with delight, despite the drizzly and blustering conditions.
 
Both sides started pretty evenly with some crisp passing, but it was Ryan Hardie who tested the Hibs defence first, when Scott Roberts sent the ball into the penalty area and Hardie sent into the side netting from the corner of the six yard box. Max Ashmore then went close when he struck from twenty five yards, but the ball took a deflection and went out for a corner kick.
 
Hibs then countered by going up the field and winning a corner kick themselves. Fraser Murray sent the ball to the back post for the unmarked Oli Shaw and the big striker rose, but sent his header closely over the cross bar.
 
Hibs were very comfortable in possession and passed the ball well, but it was Rangers that were creating the chances. Fortunately for the visitors, these chances were mostly from outside the penalty area.
 
Ross Lyon had an effort blocked, then Tom Walsh, Jamie Mills and Hardie all saw their long range strikes go close. A glimmer of the home side’s class shown through when a long cross field ball was played to Scott Roberts who then played forward to Mills. The defender continued on his run to the Hibernian bye line, sending the ball in for Hardie, but his ten yard strike took a deflection and went out for a Rangers corner.
The Rangers side must have had an ear bashing at half time, as they played with a determination missing in the first. From the kick off, Rangers moved up field and had two shots blocked in quick succession by Hibs defenders. Then Adam Eckersley took the ball from the end of Ryan Hardie’s foot, just as he was about to shoot.
 
With only four minutes played in the half, Ross Lyon sent a dangerous ball into the near post area and Ross McCrorie rose to head past the Hibs keeper with some power.
 
It was almost two, when Max Ashmore intercepted and sent wide for Tom Walsh. The midfielder charged forward, cut inside, and then blasted a shot towards goal. Unfortunately for Walsh, he was denied by a great Brennan save.
 
Then on 66 minutes, Rangers went two up with a fantastic individual goal that saw Ryan Hardie display a calm head, and some unbelievable close control. Fraser Aird sent a great ball through for the striker. Hardie then took the ball round the defender and with the deftest of touches rounded the keeper before slotting home.
 
Not content with just the one great goal, another precise ball was sent forward for Hardie to split the Hibs defence. He won the chase and placed the ball past the keeper from twelve yards.
 
Rangers and indeed Hardie, had chances to go further ahead, but it wasn’t to be. They’d have to content themselves with three points and a great second half display.
 
The three points and three goals, see Rangers climb one place and move into fifth position, dislodging Aberdeen in the process. Hamilton Accies sit in fourth and Aberdeen in sixth, and all three teams now have fifteen points.
 
Next week Rangers only have to travel a few miles down the road to Firhill, where they face Partick Thistle, who at the moment trail Rangers by six points.
 
Hibernian looked a different side from the one that beat Aberdeen last week. They competed well against Rangers in the first half and broke forward with ability, but were uneconomical with the ball and squandered most of their opportunities. They sit rooted to the bottom and will play host to Kilmarnock at Ainslie Park next week.

Lineups

Rangers FC
Hibernian FC
1. Liam Kelly
2. Fraser Aird
3. Jamie Mills
4. Max Ashmore
5. Ross McCrorie
6. David Brownlie
7. Tom Walsh
8. Ross Lyon
9. Ryan Hardie
10. Jordan Thompson
11. Scott Roberts
12. Craig Halkett
14. Dylan Dykes
15. Josh Jefferies
16. Ross King
17. Jamie Brandon
21. Robby McCrorie
1. Sean Brennan
2. Aaron Dunsmore
3. Adam Eckersley
4. Kevin Waugh
5. Jordan Forster
6. Ben Sterling
7. Scott Martin
8. Fraser Murray
9. Farid El Alagui
10. Oli Shaw
11. Jamie Insall
31. Scott Costello
12. Jack Breen
14. Adam Watson
15. Billy Smith
16. Calum Donaldson
17. Aaron Scott
18. Connor Duthie
Star Player
Rangers FC
Hibernian FC
Ryan Hardie - Always dangerous up front and the scorer of two spectacular goals.
Jordan Forster - Despite the Hibernian defence losing three goals, Forster's performance was assured, comfortable on the ball, cool headed and a range of passing, makes him a stand out.
Magic Moment
Rangers FC
Hibernian FC
Ryan Hardie's first of his two goals showed fantastic skill, he went round defender then goal keeper with such skill.
Sean Brennan's athletic diving save that denied Tom Walsh.

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