It was another black day for Rangers as they were dumped out of the Scottish Cup by Raith Rovers at Ibrox with not a single member of the Board of Directors present.
Acting on police advice, the four directors opted out of being present due to safety concerns over threats received from supporters’ groups that planned a pre-match demonstration – that in the end numbered at most 300.
In the wake of the 2-1 defeat the club issued the following statement:“It is regrettable that the Board of Rangers Football Club were not in attendance at today’s important Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers.
“Given the events over the past few days and after advice from the Club, the decision was made not to attend the game.
“The Board has a duty of care to the fans, staff and stewards to ensure safety at the ground at all times and they believe this was the correct decision.”
Raith piled more misery on Rangers as Christian Nade scrambled home a William Hill Scottish Cup winner at Ibrox.
The former Hearts striker secured a 2-1 fifth-round victory, to emulate his club’s 2014 Ramsdens Cup final triumph over Rangers, after Steve Simonsen and Richard Foster failed to deal with Jason Thomson’s driven cross.
Raith also took the lead in the 54th minute when former Celtic player Ryan Conroy curled home a free-kick but on-loan Newcastle player Haris Vuckic levelled with a tidy finish eight minutes later.
Vuckic was the only one of five St James’ Park players to make a meaningful contribution with the others unfit.
The loan signings had caused controversy but every day seemingly brings drama at Ibrox and there were protests at the board outside the ground with an official attendance of just 11,422 inside the stadium.
Rangers caretaker manager Kenny McDowall could not hide his feelings following the reversal.
“I am bitterly disappointed,” he said.
“I can only apologise to the fans. We conceded two cheap goals and paid the penalty.
“The dressing-room is low – the players are very disappointed. They know they should have won.”
All along McDowall has left the impression that he is now in a job – albeit a temporary one – that is not of his choosing.
Despite this he tried to be as positive as possible as he reflected on a shambles of a performance.
“The first-half was tight. I told the boys at half-time to be patient,” he added.
“I believe that had we scored the first goal we would have won comfortably.
“At that stage we were well in the game.”
McDowall refused to blame the sparse attendance of 11,422 and the consequent lack of atmosphere for the flat performance and emphasised that he is continuing to work hard to turn things around.
“I wouldn’t use the low crowd as an excuse,” he said.
“I’m trying my best to lift the players. A result like today is tough to take but you’ve just got to get on with it. I expected to win today – it was a home cup tie.”
Rovers soon took the lead after Kyle Hutton had brought down Callachan in a good position. Conroy stepped up to curl home from 22 yards.
Rangers quickly levelled thanks to a strong burst forward by Hutton, who slipped the ball into the left channel for the unmarked Vuckic to slot home.
Rovers took the lead again after Grant Anderson’s enterprising run sent Thomson to the bye-line. The full-back drove the ball into the six-yard box for Stewart to slide in to challenge. Simonsen could not hold it and the grounded Foster could not clear, with Nade rushing in to bundle the ball over the line.
McDowall was impressed with the performances of the two loan players from Newcastle who actually played – Rangers’ goal of course being scored by Slovenian Vuckic.
“Haris Vuckic did very well and Remie Streete was doing well until his injury,” McDowall added.