Reality bites back at Arbroath

Graham Clark at Gayfield Park
Mon 27 Jan 2003 17.38 EST

Arbroath is famous for smokies, the Declaration of Independence and the highest score in a senior British match when the local team beat Bon Accord 36-0 back in 1885. But there was never any chance of that list of achievements being threatened with something new at the weekend.

The current team are an ordinary First Division side battling against the threat of relegation. On Saturday, predictably, their goalkeeper Craig Hinchcliffe was their most effective player. Rangers were simply professional. It was thus a hugely disappointing third-round tie.

Even the bitterly cold, wet and windy weather proved no ally for Arbroath, who have been known to take advantage of the North Sea gales whipping through the little stadium. It did not frighten class acts such as Barry Ferguson, Ronald de Boer and Arthur Numan, even if it was a bit of a shock immediately after their midwinter break in the sunshine and luxury of Dubai.

The Ibrox players simply changed their glad rags for their working gear, and for no more than 26 minutes, while they sought the breakthrough, did they have any cause for concern.

Even then Ferguson signalled his intent by shooting against the bar after only two minutes, and it was one-way traffic until the Rangers captain broke the deadlock with a left-foot drive.

Further goals from Craig Moore five minutes later and Shota Arveladze after 58 minutes left Rangers questioning all the pre-match hype about giantkilling.

Yet the Premier League leaders paid a price for victory, losing both Lorenzo Amoruso and Fernando Ricksen to head injuries after a collision late on.

The Italian walked straight off to spend the night at a Dundee hospital, and his Dutch team-mate received on-the-spot stitches. Rangers' manager Alex McLeish will sign the Bordeaux defender Jérôme Bonnissel today and step up his interest in the Alaves centre-half Dan Eggen in light of Amoruso's injury, which will keep him out of the midweek match against Hibernian and probably beyond.

Amoruso's central defensive partner Craig Moore was nevertheless happy enough. "Before the tie people won dered how we would approach it after drawing with Berwick Rangers in similar circumstances last season," he said, "but we were positive and professional and after we scored we were also comfortable.

"I'm looking forward to Ayr United in the next round, although it didn't matter who it was because we want to win the competition and you can't pick and chose who you play on the way."

It all left Arbroath wondering what romance remained in the cup. "We can't have any complaints about the score," conceded their manager John Brownlie.

Man of the match: Barry Ferguson (Rangers)