• Rangers started their Scottish Championship campaign with a win over rivals St Mirren at Ibrox on Friday night
  • Lee Wallace scored a first-half brace for the home side before St Mirren pulled one back through Cameron Howieson
  • St Mirren could have equalised with a penalty, but Stephen Thompson blasted over the cross bar with his shot
  • Gers sealed the points late on through a close-range Dean Shiels goal  

Andy Newport, Press Association

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. 

Rangers' Lee Wallace (right) celebrates after scoring his second goal against St Mirren on Friday night

Rangers’ Lee Wallace (right) celebrates after scoring his second goal against St Mirren on Friday night

Wallace hits the ball on the half-volley to open the scoring against St Mirren in the Championship clash

Wallace hits the ball on the half-volley to open the scoring against St Mirren in the Championship clash

Wallace surges forward to net his second after cutting inside, as Rangers storm to a 3-1 victory over St Mirren

Wallace surges forward to net his second after cutting inside, as Rangers storm to a 3-1 victory over St Mirren

Rangers legend Sammy Cox is honoured by the home fans with a special banner carried by the crowd  

Rangers legend Sammy Cox is honoured by the home fans with a special banner carried by the crowd  

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.

Nine goals in the cup victories over Hibernian and Peterhead had sent a surge of optimism through the Light Blues’ faithful ahead of the league opener and the fans responded by packing out Ibrox with a 49,000-strong crowd. 

Much has been made this week at the raising of standards both on and off the park at the club and Warburton once again gave a glimpse of his demanding nature as he dropped David Templeton and Shiels despite both giving effective displays in Sunday’s League Cup win over Peterhead.

Jason Holt and youngster Tom Walsh took their places, while St Mirren boss Ian Murray also shook up his side as Howieson replaced Lewis Morgan.

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. 

St Mirren captain Steven Thompson skies his penalty attempt well over the crossbar at Ibrox on Friday

St Mirren captain Steven Thompson skies his penalty attempt well over the crossbar at Ibrox on Friday

Thompson looks dejected after having missed the opportunity to draw St Mirren level against Rangers  

Thompson looks dejected after having missed the opportunity to draw St Mirren level against Rangers  

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 then raced onto former Hearts midfielder Holt’s pass before slotting through Ridgers’ legs.

Rangers were so dominant by this point that St Mirren could only stand and watch the ball speed around them.

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.

James Waghorn, Holt and Walsh all posed a threat before the break as the hosts again went on the attack but there was not the same snap to Rangers’ play after the interval.

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 at the second attempt from fellow sub Templeton’s cross. 

Rangers' Tom Walsh (left) and St Mirren's Cameron Howieson (right) tussle for possession 

Rangers’ Tom Walsh (left) and St Mirren’s Cameron Howieson (right) tussle for possession 

Walsh makes a break with the ball but Howieson tracks his run during the match at Ibrox on Friday night 

Walsh makes a break with the ball but Howieson tracks his run during the match at Ibrox on Friday night 

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

Who is this week’s top commenter?
Find out now