Old Firm rivalry set for return as Rangers earn promotion

Rangers 1 Dumbarton 0

Rangers will be playing top flight football next season after clinching the Scottish Championship with a narrow 1-0 home win over Dumbarton.

After re-emerging at the bottom tier of Scottish football in 2012 in the wake of their financial meltdown, the Govan club's trek to the Premiership ended with a second half goal from right-back James Tavernier in front of a packed but often subdued Ibrox.

The Gers fans, who have stuck by the club in huge numbers throughout the lower league campaigns, cheered long and loud into the Govan night although it was less than thrilling fare they were served up.

Rangers' James Tavernier (left) celebrates scoring the only goal at Ibrox Stadium. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA
Rangers' James Tavernier (left) celebrates scoring the only goal at Ibrox Stadium. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

Last season's failure to get out of the second tier was embarrassing for a club whose wage bill has dwarfed every team they have played in the three lower leagues but boss Mark Warburton ensured the remit he was given when he arrived last summer was achieved.

The former Brentford boss and his players will face much tougher opponents next season, although they will get a chance to gauge their level sooner than that, as they face traditional rivals Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Sunday week, following the Light Blues' Petrofac Cup final against Peterhead at the national stadium.

But for the supporters, the title win was to be enjoyed

The loss of a late goal in the 3-3 draw at Raith Rovers on Saturday put title celebrations on hold but the first half revealed a sluggish Ibrox side.

An organised, dense Sons defence coped comfortably with a one-paced Rangers attack with keeper Jamie Ewings making comfortable saves from Harry Forrester's drive and Tavernier's free-kick from wide on the left, which was drifting into the top corner.

Gers striker Kenny Miller flashed a shot from outside the box over the bar in the 37th minute, by which time the home fans' restlessness was growing.

Rangers stepped up the tempo at the start of the second half and were soon rewarded.

Ewings made a fine double save, first from midfielder Billy King's powerful drive and then from another Forrester effort but in the 50th minute, as the home side kept up the pressure, he was eventually beaten when Tavernier, from close range, converted a pass from Jason Holt.

The tension-easing counter had the Gers supporters in full voice for the first time and the home side began to push with sustained menace for the first time.

Ewings saved Tavernier's header from Forrester's cross before Michael O'Halloran replaced Barrie McKay on the hour mark but in the 72nd minute, on a rare break, it was Dumbarton striker Christian Nade who tested Gers keeper Wes Foderingham with a drive, as Ibrox held its breath.

Ewings saved with his feet from O'Halloran in the 86th minute and nerves again enveloped the ground in the final moments but a roar accompanied the final whistle, Rangers fans hailed Warburton and his players but they all know the real hard work has only begun.

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