IF you like your team well-drilled and your football to be a tight, tactical and low scoring affair, then look away now. This game wasn’t for you.
In many ways, it was 90 minutes that summed up Scottish football. The quality wasn’t great at times, but you dared not take your eyes off it.
It says much about the spirit and resilience that Graeme Murty has instilled in his players that Rangers can suffer early blows and still come out on top. It is a trait that they won’t want to exhibit on too many more occasions, however.
After recovering to see off Ayr United to keep their Scottish Cup dreams alive last Sunday, history repeated itself against Hamilton as second place in the Premiership was regained. Once again, Rangers shot themselves in the foot but walked away relatively unscathed and with a deserved win to their credit.
This end-to-end, attacks on top clash was as entertaining as the 5-3 score suggests. When Murty and Martin Canning sit their players down to do their analysis in the coming days, there will be plenty to talk about.
For Greg Docherty, the first five minutes won’t make pleasant viewing. The midfielder inspired Accies to their famous win at Ibrox earlier in the season as Murty suffered one of his most disappointing days in the dugout. He was instrumental in giving Canning’s side a dream start here as the ironic cheers from the home end became a roar of celebration.
Docherty took a swipe at the ball as he failed to clear his lines inside the area and his former midfield partner Darren Lyon capitalised in style, his shot beyond the reach of Wes Foderingham as he fired Hamilton ahead.
That in itself was a remarkable enough opening to the encounter, but there was no let-up in the action, or the goals, in the remainder of the first half. There were moments of inspiration, and a couple of madness.
Alfredo Morelos almost pulled Rangers level as he flicked a Docherty cross onto the bar but Rangers didn’t have to wait long for their equaliser.
The Colombian was involved again as he worked the ball well with Daniel Candeias and burst into the area. He picked out Jamie Murphy and the winger followed up his effort at Somerset Park with a simple finish into the empty net.
That was the reaction that Rangers needed to their early setback and it soon got even better for the visitors. There was more than a touch of good fortune in this one.
Windass was given time and space on the edge of the area but his shot was straight at Gary Woods. What should have been a routine stop turned into a nightmare for the keeper as he fumbled the ball over the line and into the roof of the net.
With their noses in front, Rangers would have been expecting to pull clear now. Against his former club, Templeton had other ideas.
The Gers shot themselves in the foot once again, with Russell Martin the culprit on this occasion as his poor clearance from deep was cut out in the middle of the park. When the ball fell to Templeton, he didn’t need a second invitation to shoot as he found the corner of Foderingham’s net with a lovely finish.
With four goals on the scoreboard and just 22 minutes on the clock, it was anyone’s guess what would happen next or how the rest of the afternoon would unfold. Rangers quickly made sure they were back in the ascendancy, however.
Before the half hour mark was reached, they had their third and Morelos had his 16th of the campaign. Docherty was involved in a more productive manner on this occasion as he found the Colombian, who played the ball wide and into the path of Murphy.
Woods made a decent stop to deny him his second of the game but Morelos was, once again, in the right place at the right time as he slotted home to put the Gers ahead.
This time, they didn’t throw away their advantage. Instead, they built on it to ensure they ended a rollercoaster first half with the win in their sights.
Tavernier and Murphy linked up well down the right and Windass finished the move off this time, his sweeping low strike the final goal of an entertaining 45 minutes of action.
The midfielder was denied his hat-trick when Woods saved well after the restart, while he should have had an assist shortly afterwards as Morelos and Candeias failed to connect with a teasing cross from the left.
In between, Foderingham had failed to hold a Marios Ogkmpoe drive and Accies would have felt they were still in the game. That hope was soon ended, however.
A quick throw-in from Candeias set Morelos free down the right. Windass burst through the middle and his clinical finish was the mark of a player in the finest form of his Ibrox career.
That was that in terms of the outcome, but not in terms of the goals. There was still time for one more and it was Accies that got it, Dougie Imrie firing home from the penalty spot after Martin was adjudged to have handled a cross from Lewis Ferguson.
The first and last blows counted little for Hamilton. It was Rangers that had landed the decisive ones.