Rangers avoided a third successive defeat as Steven Davis ended his tenure in interim charge with a 2-0 victory over ten-man St Mirren.

The Northern Irishman saw his side crash to a woeful loss to Aris Limassol on Thursday night just days after the reverse to Aberdeen that ultimately cost Michael Beale his job.

A James Tavernier penalty gave Rangers the lead midway through the first half and sealed the win in style. Abdallah Sima had clinched the win to brighten the mood after a difficult period at Ibrox.

A surprisingly straightforward victory

The home crowd were far from impressed when referee Nick Walsh made his way over to the VAR screen in front of the main stand. The whistler took the brunt of the abuse when he returned in that direction to head down the tunnel at the break. Yet it was Ryan Strain that they should have been directing their fury at after his moment of madness left his teammates up against it. At first viewing, it looked like Sima had missed a sitter as he failed to convert at the back post. But it soon became clear that Strain had taken the ball out of his path with his hand. Walsh had no option but to dismiss him and Tavernier compounded the Buddies’ agony as he converted from 12 yards to give Rangers an advantage that hadn't exactly been on the cards. This fixture had been seen as a potentially difficult one for Rangers given their situation and the fine start to the season that St Mirren had made. This was a disappointing afternoon from the Buddies, though, and it must go down as a missed opportunity as they posed Rangers few problems. The decisive second goal came with 20 minutes remaining. The defending was weak but Rangers were clinical as Nicolas Raskin collected a James Tavernier pass down the right channel and picked out Sima to score his fourth goal in as many matches. Tavernier had the final say. His strike from distance was thunderous and left keeper Zach Hemming helpless. This was more like it from Rangers.

No more damage done in Premiership race

Rangers can breathe a sigh of relief. The sanctuary of the international break has arrived. It is a fortnight that brings opportunities, too, and a period that must offer insight and encouragement to a support that have become disheartened by a largely appalling start to the campaign. On the pitch, Rangers have the chance to regroup and recover. Having welcomed back Nicolas Raskin and Kemar Roofe ahead of schedule, the focus in the treatment room is now to get the likes of Kieran Dowell, Tom Lawrence, Todd Cantwell and Danilo back up to speed as quickly as possible as attentions, in a sporting sense, turn to the visit of Hibernian. In the boardroom, all the time and energy centres around the managerial appointment as James Bisgrove and John Bennett continue the search for Michael Beale’s successor. He must be in place before the next Ibrox outing. They will do so with their faint Premiership hopes still hanging by a threat. The defeat to Aberdeen last weekend saw them fall seven points adrift of Celtic and such a position leaves the next manager with it all to do between now and the end of the campaign. In all likelihood, the gap will be insurmountable for Rangers. Losing further ground here would have ended those ambitions and rendered the rest of the league fixtures largely meaningless. Davis can hand over the reins having done his best and done his bit. Now it is down to the new boss to make an immediate impact and attempt to turn forlorn challengers into potential champions.

Team selection spoke volumes

Davis showed a touch of class and used all of his experience on Thursday evening as he held his hands up and took responsibility for the result in Cyprus. He would have been entitled to have thrown his players under the bus but that would have been counterproductive and was never going to be the road that the interim boss went down. It was clear that those on the park had let him down against Aris. He had to keep them on side, though, both for this fixture and to keep their spirits up as much as possible for the next man that will take to the dugout in the coming weeks. Davis could make his point with his selections rather than his speeches. There was no place in the squad for Scott Wright, while Ben Davies, Cyriel Dessers and Sam Lammers were consigned to a berth on the bench as Davis dropped £8million worth of summer signings for a must-win fixture. Davis was never going to pitch a handful of kids in at once, but it was encouraging to see Zak Lovelace get a start. Tellingly, when he was replaced late in the first half, Ross McCausland was given the shout to replace him as Dessers and Lammers remained seated behind the interim boss. It will be down to the next manager to assess a group that has seriously under-performed and underachieved this term over the coming weeks. Every member of the group is playing for their future and another significant turnover of players seems inevitable at Ibrox. There has to be consequences when performances are not produced and results are not earned. Davis made big calls and made the right ones.

Ibrox injury curse claims Lovelace

Rangers fans have been calling for the brightest products from the academy system to get their chance in the first team for some time now. When that wish was granted, it came at a cost. The decision to start Lovelace was the right one from Davis. The Englishman has been in and around the squad for long enough now to know what is expected at this level and the injury crisis that has claimed so many players opened the door for Lovelace to get his crack. Ironically and unfortunately, he would succumb to that same curse before the end of the first half. In the 40 minutes that he was on the park, he had done enough to convince he deserves another shot. Starting wide on the right of a front three that also included Roofe and Sima, Lovelace was a lively presence from the off. He clearly has many rough edges to his game but the raw ingredients – the pace and the power – are certainly there and the 17-year-old did not look out of his depth in his first Premiership start. It was his endeavour and efforts that resulted in the opening goal. He was direct down the right flank and flashed in the cross that Strain handled as Sima looked to score at the back post. That involvement would have given Lovelace another confidence boost. Unfortunately, his afternoon came to a premature end just minutes later as he injured himself after colliding with Alex Gogic. Lovelace received treatment on the park before being replaced by fellow Under-20s forward McCausland. He picked up where his team-mate left off and was bright throughout as the kids made their mark.

Fans make their feelings clear

There would have been many within the travelling support who had not long returned from Cyprus and who were still coming to terms with the appalling performance and wretched result against Aris. The reaction at the end of the Group C defeat told its own story. As has been the case so often in recent weeks, those on the park, in the dugout and in the boxes were left in no doubt about what the fans in the stands thought about where Rangers are and where they are heading. It was the players that were under fire here. Eight minutes in, as Rangers lined up a corner at the opposite end of the pitch, two banners were put into place and were prepared to be unfurled. The messages were unequivocable. The first read ‘Heartless. Passionless. Leaderless’ and the second – just a few rows in front – stated ‘Not fit to wear our colours’. Davis had a glance over behind the goal before turning back to focus his attentions on the action. He has seen and heard it all in his distinguished career and will understand the mood and concerns of the support as well as anyone at Rangers right now. The whistle was greeted celebrations and applause on this occasion as three points where earned. The supporters had made their point as well.