Ibrox was rocking on Sunday afternoon as Rangers cruised to the top of the table for the first time in ten months after beating Hamilton 5-0.
As a Hamilton fan, the last thing we needed was Celtic to lose at Livingston hours before kick-off, but they did surprisingly lose which meant we had a even bigger challenge ahead.
On the day before his 37th birthday, Jermaine Defoe continued his fine vein of form as he notched a hat-rick as well as Borna Barisic and Conor Goldson getting on the scoresheet.
It was a day forget for Brian Rice and his side. The Accies gaffer changed his usual tactics and it badly backfired. He opted to sit back and essentially “Park the bus” instead of “having a go” like always.
Steven Gerrard brought Greg Stewart and Jermain Defoe back into the team after their disappointing defeat on Thursday night in Bern and it was those two who linked up to create the opening goal. Stewart picked the ball up in midfield before a defence-splitting pass saw him play through Defoe, who made no mistake as he chipped it over the Owain-Fon Williams.
After conceding so early in the game, myself and the other travelling Hamilton fans knew we were in for a long afternoon in Govan.
The next chance came on the 25th minute when a fizzing shot from Stewart was well saved and held by Fon-Williams, before Defoe missed a sitter at the back-post and he really should have scored his second of the afternoon.
The home side made amends for the Defoe miss as they scored their second ten minutes before the break. Centre-back Conor Goldson played the ball out to James Tavernier before bursting forward into the box without anyone following him. The cross was inch-perfect and Goldson’s diving-header flew by The Accies keeper, who stood no chance.
The Ibrox Outfit had strong claims for a penalty, when a dangerous cross by Tavernier seemed to hit the hand of Markus Fjortoft, but referee Nick Walsh was unmoved.
Half-Time- Rangers 2-0 Hamilton
Rangers continued to pile pressure on the Accies defence in the early stages of the second half and it looked only a matter of time until the third arrived. Scott Arfield forced Fon-Williams into a decent save before Stewart sliced an effort wide from six-yards out.
However, a minute after the hour mark the game was well and truly put to bed. Sam Stubbs was booked for a late challenge on Defoe and Rangers left-back Borna Barisic stepped up and curled it into the top left-hand corner.
As an Accies fan its fair to say we just collapsed and fell to pieces and it no surprise to see Rangers add a fourth two minutes later. It was Defoe who doubled his tally for the afternoon as he evaded numerous challenges inside the box and managed to squeeze a low shot across goal which beat Fon-Williams.
The Englishman was now on a hat-rick and with the red hot form he was in, it was unlikely he would pass up on an opportunity if he got it.
On the 71st minute he did indeed grab his hat-rick, when a shot from Stewart was parried by Fon-Williams and it was Defoe who was in the right place at the right time as he fired the ball into the roof of the net.
This was enough for the majority of the Accies fans as they swiftly left the stadium to try beat the post-match traffic.
There was more concern when Rangers top-goal scorer Alfredo Morelos came off the bench to replace Sheyi Ojo, but luckily for Hamilton he couldn’t get himself on the scoresheet, with his best chance being a strike at goal which was well saved.
Full Time- Rangers 5-0 Hamilton
I hate to say it, but I’m afraid Brian Rice got everything wrong on Sunday and we were shambolic. The tactics were to simply to park the bus and hold out Rangers, which wasn’t going to work. We could of at least had a go. I have no idea why Daz and Oggy didn’t start. I know Daz hasn’t been the best this season, but he simply needs to start games like this and Oggy should have started to. We had no out ball and had he played he could have at least held the ball up and gave our defenders a rest.
I think the international break has come at right time as it will give us time to regroup and have a rest after a tough run of fixtures. Bring on Hibs 💪
McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Edmundson, Barisic, Kamara, Davis(64), Arfield(64), Ojo, Stewart, Defoe(74)
Subs- Foderingham, Katic,Halliday, Aribo, Polster(64), Murphy(64), Morelos(74)
Fon-Williams, McKenna, Easton, Fjortoft(69), Stubbs, McMann, Hughes, Gogic, Alston, Beck(60),Oakley
Subs- Southwood,Hamilton(69), Cunningham, MacKinnon, Smith(60),Miller, Ogkmpoe
Referee- Nick Walsh
Assistants- Frank Connor & Graham Leslie
Fourth Official- Barry Cook
Goals- Defoe( 7, 63, 71), Goldson(34), Barisic(61)
Yellow Cards – Stubbs(60)
Red Cards- 0