RANGERS booked their place in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup with a 1-0 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Borna Barisic netted the only goal of a cagey affair as Michael Beale extended his unbeaten run and the holders ensured they took another step on the road to Hampden.

That was the main positive for boss Beale. Now Rangers will return to Premiership action next weekend as they face Callum Davidson’s side once again.



The result is the only thing that really matters in cup ties. That was all that Beale could take away from this one he maintained his unbeaten stint since succeeding Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

The Englishman speaks about being result happy and performance happy. Only one of those were applicable at McDiarmid Park and this was another largely forgettable outing.

The victory was merited and Rangers deserved their place in the next round but Beale will demand so much more from his side. He has said that they are still a work in progress and showings like this highlight just how far Rangers have still to go as the search for improvement continues.

Eight wins from nine matches represents an impressive start in the cold light of day and there are signs that Beale is making an impression on this side. As the treatment room continues to clear and the new faces arrive in the coming days, that job will gradually get easier.

Winning is imperative while that process unfolds. This victory wasn’t one that will be fondly remembered come the end of the campaign and it was another case of job done and move on for Rangers.



There were few moments of quality in a lacklustre, low-key first half that seemed destined to finish goalless. With just seconds remaining, step forward Barisic.

The goal that broke the deadlock was one of the few passages of quality play from Rangers. Apart from a Fashion Sakala effort that he pulled wide of target and a Barisic free-kick that didn’t trouble Remi Matthews, Rangers rarely threatened.

The move that resulted in them holding the advantage at the break was much more like it, though. The touch from Malik Tillman to set Sakala free was class and the Zambian was unfortunate to see a powerful effort across goal come back off the far post.

Thankfully for Rangers, it fell into the path of Barisic. On the angle, he produced a stunning finish as the speed and curl on the strike left Matthews with no chance.

It was a bitter blow for St Johnstone. It also came just seconds after right-back James Brown was forced off as he received treatment for a facial injury and was replaced by Graham Carey.

Rangers had been comfortable throughout the first half but the performance would have frustrated Beale and he was entitled to ask for much better as his side once again laboured in the final third.

Domestic matches are all about breaking the resistance of the opposition and then killing the game off. Rangers haven’t done that in the manner expected often enough this term and this was another sluggish start that raised questions about their approach early on in games.



The win over Kilmarnock on Wednesday evening saw Rangers forced to come from behind once again as they conceded the first goal for the fourth time in eight matches under Beale.

When you add in the victory at Pittodrie, it becomes five occasions that Rangers have made life difficult for themselves. A point was collected from the Old Firm clash at Ibrox and Hibernian and Aberdeen were beaten.

There is satisfaction to be taken from the fact that Rangers have the character to put setbacks behind them but the mistakes that have resulted in them being in those positions in the first place must be eradicated. Indeed, Beale has often refuted suggestions that question the mentality of the group he inherited at Ibrox.

Beale spoke about the alarming pattern post-match at Rugby Park and ahead of the trip to Perth. It is obvious that Rangers don’t mean to give themselves a mountain to climb but a solution has to be found as it is clearly not conducive in the long term and this was a step in the right direction.

In truth, it never looked like Rangers were going to fall behind on this occasion. St Johnstone offered virtually nothing in an attacking sense and even the set-piece situations didn’t bring any rewards as Rangers, with Allan McGregor back between the sticks, were able to fend off the few advances before striking to give themselves the platform for victory in Perth.

Connor Goldson almost gave them breathing space with a header early in the second half. Later on, Ryan Jack came close, Matthews saved well from Scott Wright and Andy Considine cleared away an Alfredo Morelos effort.



The decision to hand over three sides of McDiarmid Park for this fixture has, it is fair to say, not gone down well with the Perth punters. Weeks of comment have followed as the Saints board have been put under the spotlight and received a level of criticism that has been rare in the Brown era.

There was an obvious financial benefit of having more than 7,000 Rangers fans in attendance and the travelling support made themselves seen and heard. On the other hand, it was hard to tell there were any Saints supporters here at all.

Several hundred of them turned up to cheer on Davidson’s side and those that made the decision to stay away cannot be faulted for making their feelings known to the hierarchy. That decision would undoubtedly have been difficult for those fans, but they are thinking of the bigger picture as the board focus on the short-term cash benefits.

The full ramifications of their decision will only be known in time. The blue pounds will swell the bank balance right now but the goodwill and backing of those they need to take their seats week after week has been damaged and must, somehow, be repaired going forward.



This should have been the season that Alex Lowry really started to establish himself as a first team player at Ibrox. Instead, he has struggled for game time and barely made an impression.

A hat-trick for the B Team against Civil Service Strollers earlier this month was a reminder of what the youngster can do. On his day, he looks to have all the attributes to slot into Beale’s side and the manager has been effusive in his praise for Lowry since his return as he dismissed the prospect of a January loan away from Ibrox.

This outing was his first since he got 66 minutes from the start against Motherwell and Beale later explained that a calf injury had kept him on the sidelines. Such frustrations have been the story of his season and his only other appearance is the Champions League defeat at home to Ajax.

He was given the final eight minutes to make an impression in Perth as he replaced Ryan Kent and it was always going to be difficult to read too much into his performance given the frantic finale.

The coming weeks should bring more opportunities for Lowry. His involvement will say a lot about where he is and where he is heading as a Rangers player.