Rangers edged a step closer to Petrofac Training Cup redemption after a fairly unconvincing 1-0 quarter-final victory against Livingston.
The Light Blues have failed to win the competition on three separate occasions but substitute Nicky Clark’s second-half strike secured a place in the last four against St Mirren.
Rangers have been superior in the Scottish Championship winning their opening 10 games but tangible evidence of that free-flowing, enterprising football proved elusive in this encounter.
Instead, it was a result they grinded out. Livingston proved difficult to break down if offering little in an attacking sense themselves.
The Championship’s basement boys were up for the battle just ask Nathan Oduwa, who was on the end of a few strong challenges before being replaced at half-time by Clark.
The first challenge came from Craig Gibbons after only 16 seconds and it was lucky not to be a red. Oduwa was writhing around in pain after being caught high up on the ankle but eventually got up gingerly to his feet.
He produced the first real chance of the game on 16 minutes when his terrific delivery found the prolific James Tavernier whose effort was miraculously cleared off the line by Ben Gordon.
There were large swathes of empty blue seats not seen since the days under the old regime at Ibrox but this game had clearly failed to capture the imagination of the Light Blues faithful with only 17,386 turning up.
And in fairness they weren’t missing much. It felt flat and underwhelming for the most part.
Livingston had clearly identified Oduwa as a threat and dealt with him accordingly. Barrie McKay tried to provide inspiration teeing up Andy Halliday for an effort which was comfortable for Marc McCallum.
Livingston had created precious little but Liam Buchanan warmed the palms of Wes Foderingham with a 25-yard drive.
A deflected Halliday effort was a statement of intent at the start of the second half for Rangers before Rob Kiernan failed to connect properly with the goal at his mercy.
Clark then contrived to miss from 12 yards after Nicky Law’s effort was saved before Law flashed another shot wide of the target as Rangers searched for an opener.
You sensed a goal was coming and Clark duly provided it. For 75 minutes Livi resisted but they were undone by the substitute who fizzed a shot across the slick surface which McCallum was unable to keep out.
Clark could have added a second towards the end when he nodded wide but his solitary strike was not enough to seal a semi-final place for Mark Warburton’s men.