Rangers beat St Mirren in league opener at Ibrox

Rangers' Dean Shiels celebrates
Rangers' Dean Shiels celebrates

Rangers got their Ladbrokes Championship promotion bid off to a winning start as they beat St Mirren 3-1 at Ibrox - but only after Buddies captain Stevie Thompson let them off the hook.

Mark Warburton’s team dominated possession with some cavalier football and grabbed an early two-goal lead thanks to skipper Lee Wallace’s double.

But they failed to press home their superiority and were pegged back as Cameron Howieson struck for Saints.

Thompson should have squared the match just after the break when Saints landed a penalty - only for the ex-Gers striker to sky his attempt from 12 yards.

Rangers finally put the matter to bed two minutes from the end with substitute Dean Shiels scrambled effort.

After walking out to an atmosphere that was more reminiscent of Champions League nights of old than last year’s Championship meltdown, Rangers got exactly the start they were looking for.

Saints survived three early Barry McKay corners but from the fourth Danny Wilson headed the ball into a ruck of Buddies defenders before Wallace leapt on the loose ball, ramming it high into Mark Ridgers’ net after just four minutes.

Ibrox erupted with joy and there was more jubilation on 26 minutes as McKay and Holt combined to slice the St Mirren back four in two. Captain Wallace slotting through Ridgers’ legs.

But a minute after going 2-0 down, on-loan Celtic youngster Paul McMullen weighted a perfect through ball for Howieson, who dented the party atmosphere after beating Gers keeper Wes Foderingham.

And Ibrox was left holding its breath 10 minutes into the second half when James Tavernier’s trip on McMullen handed Saints a spot-kick. There was relief all round, though, as Thompson ballooned his awful effort.

Despite their narrow lead, Gers continued to pile forward, leaving themselves dangerously exposed at times. But their reward came late on when Shiels put the matter to rest as he kneed the ball home.