Montrose 0 Rangers 0: McCoist's men crowned champions despite goalless draw
Lisa Gray, Press Association
15:22 GMT, 30 March 2013
02:00 GMT, 31 March 2013
Rangers clinched the Irn-Bru Third Division title on Saturday to complete stage one of their journey back to the top of Scottish Football.
The Light Blues were held to a goalless draw at Montrose in a noon kick-off but were confirmed as champions three hours later when a Stuart Leslie penalty secured victory for Elgin over Queen's Park.
The result at Hampden means nearest rivals Queen's cannot catch the Ibrox outfit in the title race, as Ally McCoist secured his first piece of silverware as Rangers manager.
Get the party started: Rangers players pose after winning the Third Division
Goaless: Rangers' Kane Hemmings tussles for the ball with Cammy MacDonald
His side have looked unconvincing at
times this term but have done enough to force themselves over the
finishing line with several games to spare, following their demotion to
the bottom tier of Scottish football after being consigned to
liquidation in the summer and losing their top-flight status.
Rangers made two changes following last week's drab stalemate against Stirling at Ibrox for the clash at Montrose.
David Templeton and Ian Black returned
from injury and suspension respectively to start, with Barrie McKay and
Fraser Aird dropping to the bench.
Rangers were handed a tough match the last time they visited Links Park in December, leaving with a hard-fought 4-2 win.
Chalked off: Montrose's Martin Boyle finds the net only to have his goal ruled out
This time around, they started sharply
with efforts from Robbie Crawford and Lee McCulloch blocked in quick
succession, before Kyle Hutton eventually rifled wide.
Templeton tested the goalkeeper when
he collected a Kane Hemmings header before unleashing an impressive half
volley that stung the palms of John Gibson.
The winger was threatening again when
he cut inside from the left before having another crack at goal but
Stephen McNally blocked for a corner.
Templeton then turned provider for Lee
Wallace and his effort was touched onto the bar by the keeper, as
Rangers kept up the pressure.
At the other end, a Paul Watson strike from distance took a massive deflection and spun just past the upright.
A matter of time: Ally McCoist side could still become champions if Queens Park slip up against Elgin City
Bolstered by the chance, the home side carved out another couple of decent opportunities.
David Gray – who has netted home and
away against Gers this season – forced a save from Neil Alexander,
before Alan Campbell glanced a header inches wide.
Montrose should have taken the lead
through Martin Boyle but his back post header was off target when he
should have had the net bulging.
The home side picked up where they
left off in the second half when Gray pounced on a poor clearance from
Emilson Cribari and lashed narrowly over the crossbar a minute after the
Crunch: Ian Black takes a tough challenge from Montrose's Terry Masson
Rangers had a good chance of their own when Wallace's cut-back found Hemmings and his shot forced a decent save from Gibson.
Montrose thought they had taken the lead when they had the ball in the net after 65 minutes.
Alexander fumbled an awkward cross
that fell for Terry Masson. His shot was saved but the keeper could not
hold that ball, which was turned into the empty net by Boyle.
But the goal was disallowed by referee Kevin Clancy for a foul on Alexander.
It looked to be a controversial
decision and a let off for Rangers, whose celebrations came later in the
day as they made the trip back to Ibrox and took a major step in their
road to recovery.