ANOTHER NARROW WIN FOR 'GERS - St. Mirren 1 (Dorman 55) Rangers 2 (Boyd 12, Edu 18)

Last updated : 09 April 2009 By Southside Johnny
Attendance 6,231

The Light Blues' first visit to the new St. Mirren Park saw Manager Walter Smith make three changes from Falkirk with Maurice Edu, DaMarcus Beasley and Steven Naismith replacing Lee McCulloch, John Fleck and Nacho Novo.

The Ibrox men had of course suffered a 0-1 reversal on the occasion of their final visit to Love Street last October - but from the way they started this game it was all too clear that they were determined to avoid a repeat.

Injury woes reared their ugly head once again as early as the eighth minute when Beasley was stretchered off after being battered from behind by John Potter. Incredibly Referee Eddie Smith chose merely to lecture the Saints defender when he could easily have produced a red card.

Beasley appeared to make a miraculous recovery, returning to the field of play and indeed played a part in the opening goal in twelve minutes when finding Pedro Mendes who in turn released Sasa Papac down the left with a sublime pass - the full-back's cutback being turned home by Kris Boyd.

Beasley eventually had to concede defeat two minutes later when he was replaced by Novo.

It should have been 2-0 in sixteen minutes when a Madjid Bougherra cross was dropped by home goalkeeper Mark Howard at the feet of Novo - the substitute squaring to Boyd who somehow shot wide of an open goal.

The miss scarcely appeared to matter however - for two minutes later Edu headed home from a Mendes corner for his first goal for the club.

It had been all Rangers - indeed the 'Buddies' first attempt on goal arrived in 34 minutes when from a Jack Ross cross Billy Mehmet's volley was deflected into the arms of Neil Alexander.

Sixty seconds later the Ibrox men suffered yet another injury blow when Papac limped off following a late tackle from Craig Dargo. The Bosnian was replaced by Christian Dailly with Steven Whittaker moving over to the left.

Rangers ended the half as they had begun it with a long, deep Davis cross finding Boyd whose header was held by Howard.

The visitors had been so much on top and so dominant throughout the first-half that it was near-impossible to fathom what lay ahead.

Rangers had a strong penalty claim ignored by the referee in 49 minutes when a Davis cross was headed goalwards by Boyd only to be blocked by a defender's hand - then three minutes later the centre was released by a fine Mendes pass only to be denied by Howard who held his effort at the second attempt.

From nowhere St. Mirren reduced the deficit in 55 minutes when Andy Dorman burst through on a Dargo pass to slot the ball home via an upright.

Eight minutes later Novo almost restored the two-goal advantage when he was sent through by Boyd only to see Howard produce a fine one-handed save.

As the minutes ticked away the home side were coming more and more into the game - but the Rangers defence held firm, restricting their opponents' goalscoring opportunities.

In a swift counter-attack the visitors almost sealed the win in 88 minutes when a cross-field pass from Mendes found Davis who back-heeled the ball to Dailly whose twenty-yard shot was just too high.

Andrius Velicka replaced Novo in the last minute as Rangers held on for a 2-1 win.

Afterwards Walter Smith summarised:

"We played very well first-half, passing the ball well and scoring a good opening goal. St. Mirren pinned us back in the second-half but we denied them many goalscoring opportunities. We could have done without the injuries, although they didn't affect the game. We've put two awkward away games behind us."

ST. MIRREN Howard; Ross, Cuthbert, Potter (Haining 89), Camara; Dorman, Mason (Hamilton 84), Thomson, McGinn; Mehmet, Dargo
UNUSED SUBS Mathers, Brady, Barron, McAusland, Quinn

RANGERS Alexander; Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac (Dailly 35); Davis, Edu, Mendes, Beasley (Novo 14 [Velicka 89]); Boyd, Naismith
UNUSED SUBS G. Smith, Aaron, Lennon, Fleck

REFEREE Eddie Smith