HIGHLAND THRILLER - Inveness Caley 2-3 Rangers

Last updated : 30 January 2006 By Southside Johnny

Rangers chalked up their fifth successive victory with
a hard-fought 3-2 win over Inverness Caledonian
Thistle on Sunday to move into third place in the
League race.

Caledonian went into this game under new management –
Charlie Christie’s appointment to succeed Craig
Brewster having been confirmed on Friday.

Ibrox Boss Alex McLeish made one change from last
weekend with Alan Hutton making a welcome return from
injury to replace broken-nose victim Barry Ferguson.

It was a gloriously sunny day at the picturesque
Caledonian Stadium on the banks of the Moray Firth as
the game commenced – and Rangers, wearing their change
strip of white with an orange sash got off to the
perfect start, opening the scoring in six minutes when
a mazy run by Chris Burke saw the winger release
Thomas Buffel on the left, the Belgian squaring across
the face of goal for Kris Boyd to stab home.

Seven minutes later the scores were level when
Referee Alan Freeland waved play on after Boyd was
impeded on the touchline – Craig Dargo netting after
Ross Tokely’s effort had been blocked.

Rangers almost regained the lead instantaneously when
Bob Malcolm’s thirty-yard effort was turned wide by
former Rangers’ goalkeeper Mark Brown, then from the
resultant corner the midfielder’s back-header from
Burke’s kick came back off the post.

Brown denied Rangers again in 26 minutes when he
turned wide Peter Lovenkrands’ 22-yard shot after the
Dane had cut in from the right.

Sixty seconds later the visitors regained the lead
when Lovenkrands’ inswinging corner was deflected off
Tokely onto the shoulder of Marvin Andrews and through
Brown’s legs into the net.

Rangers suffered an injury blow in 39 minutes when
Burke, in outstanding form, limped off to be replaced
by Dado Prso.

The Champions finished the half on top with Thomas
Buffel, outstanding throughout, saw his shot from
Malcolm’s pass blocked by Brown.

Brown was in superb form against his old club, and
underlined this with a stunning double save in 53
minutes – firstly from a Prso header off a Buffel
cross then again from Lovenkrands’ effort from the
Two minutes later Caley should have equalised when a
Barry Wilson corner, nodded on by Ross Tokely, was
headed over from point-blank range by Wyness.

Rangers however went 3-1 up in 57 minutes when Boyd
converted a penalty-kick after Lovenkrands had been
sandwiched between Golabek and Hastings.

Nine minutes later Buffel almost added a fourth with a
curling shot from the edge of the box.

The game was not yet won however – Wyness reducing the
deficit when his flying header deflected a wayward
Wilson volley into the net in 71 minutes.

The Ibrox men suffered yet another injury blow three
minutes later when Boyd limped off to be replaced by
Nacho Novo.

Rangers however ended the game on top – an 84th minute
Ricksen corner creating havoc in the home defence –
Novo’s initial effort being blocked before Sotirios
Kyrgiakos saw his effort from the rebound held by

Thus the home side’s eleven-match unbeaten run had
ended, and afterwards Alex McLeish reflected:

“It was a great win. I was pleased with the chances
created, but we need to be much more ruthless in front
of goal. Sloppy defensive play cost us bad goals.”

Inverness Boss Charlie Christie was at pains to

“Make no mistake – Rangers are a quality side. They
are vastly improved from the last time we played them.
They are much more confident. Thomas Buffel is a
quality player, a class act, and the best in the

Munro, Hastings (Bayne 86); Wilson, Duncan (Golabek
45), Fox (Hart 70), McBain; Wyness, Dargo
UNUSED SUBS Fraser, McCaffrey, Proctor, McAllister

RANGERS Waterreus; Hutton, Andrews, Kyrgiakos, Murray;
Burke (Prso 39), Ricksen, Malcolm, Buffel; Boyd (Novo
74), Lovenkrands
UNUSED SUBS Klos, A. Rae, G. Rae, Smith, Carcary

REFEREE Alan Freeland