Rangers fight back to score six past Ayr and reach Scottish Cup quarter-finals

Rangers survived an early scare against Ayr United to cruise into the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a thumping 6-1 win at Somerset Park.

Alan Forrest, brother of Celtic winger James Forrest, took advantage of a mistake by Gers goalkeeper Wed Foderingham in the 10th minute to give the League One side a shock lead before returning striker Alfredo Morelos levelled on the half-hour mark after missing a sitter from close range moments earlier.

Graeme Murty’s side were ruthless after the break as Jason Cummings struck from close range in the 65th minute before a double from Josh Windass, either side of Morelos’ second, preceded a last-minute counter from Jamie Murphy.

The home side’s early goal which had given them hope was a simple calamity for the visitors.

Foderingham hesitated when taking David Bates’ pass back and Forrest, whose brother scored a hat-trick for Celtic in their 3-2 win over Partick Thistle on Saturday, closed the keeper down and bundled the ball into the net.

It was the perfect start for United, whose manager Ian McCall missed the match after undergoing an operation for a detached retina last week as assistant manager Neil Scally took charge.

The goal sprung the Govan side into action and they upped the tempo immediately, forcing Ayr into some dogged defending.

In the 25th minute, Windass’ header from a James Tavernier cross crashed off the crossbar before Morelos, to the amazement of everyone inside the ground, scooped a Greg Docherty cross over the woodwork from a couple of yards out.

It was a remarkable miss but the Colombian striker made up for it a few minutes later as he fired high into the net – after midfielder Sean Goss’ 25-yard drive cannoned off the bar – taking his tally for the season to 14.

Gers kept up the pressure and as the driving sleet turned to snow Ayr keeper Jack Ruddy parried a Cummings drive from close range in a packed home penalty area.

There was a delay to the start to the second-half as lines were cleared of snow.

The Ibrox side kept pressing but Foderingham was forced into a good blocking save from Declan McDaid following a swift Ayr counter-attack.

Goss came close with a drive before Murphy had the ball in the Ayr net on the hour mark after Ruddy had spilled a powerful shot from Cummings only to see the offside flag was up.

The next goal looked imminent and it arrived when Murphy took a quick corner to Goss and – when he crossed into the middle – Cummings managed to hook the ball over his shoulder and into the net.

Rangers then pressed home their superiority in a punishing final stages.

Windass side-footed a Declan John cut-back into the net from 14 yards before Morelos did likewise from much closer range, after being set up by Murphy.

Windass completed his double with back-post header from another Goss delivery before Murphy, on loan from Brighton, scored his first goal for Rangers with a fine angled finish after racing into the Ayr penalty area.

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