Rangers 1 Raith 2
Raith Rovers 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 started with both of the fit on-loan Newcastle players available to Kenny McDowall, who revealed on Friday that he was duty bound to start all of the deadline-day signings from Tyneside when fit, a claim that was later denied by Ibrox chief executive Derek Llambias.
Rangers revealed before the game that Gael Bigirimana had suffered a hamstring injury in training on Saturday while Shane Ferguson and Kevin Mbabu are several weeks away from fitness.
That left Slovenia midfielder Vuckic and Remie Streete to start but the English defender, who had been carrying an injury during the week, limped off just before the interval to allow Darren McGregor to reclaim his place in central defence.
McDowall also dropped Fraser Aird and Steven Smith following the previous weekend’s League Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic but his team were just as poor again as the caretaker manager slumped to his fifth defeat in five games in charge.
Rovers came closest to opening the scoring in an even first half when Paul Watson met Conroy’s out-swinging corner in the 27th minute and sent a header that bounced off the inside of the post and into the arms of the motionless Simonsen.
Dale Carrick and Nade were both presented with shooting opportunities after Ian Black lost possession but could not hit the target, while Simonsen saved from Ross Callachan’s long-range strike.
The home side’s best first-half chance came when Jon Daly met Foster’s deep cross but David McGurn got down to push the header away.
Apart from some other good crosses from Foster, Rangers only threatened from long range and McGurn coped comfortably with strikes from Kenny Miller and Lee McCulloch.
Raith lost Dale Carrick early in the second half to a thigh injury that might have occurred when McCulloch landed on the on-loan Hearts striker. Mark Stewart came on.
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.
Substitute Kris Boyd had a decent chance saved before Black was substituted to huge cheers after a poor display, with Andrew Murdoch taking his place.
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.
Simonsen, after lengthy treatment, kept Rangers in the tie by stopping Anderson’s shot but Boyd headed Murdoch’s cross wide from six yards to seal his team’s exit.