Last updated : 22 January 2007 By Southside Johnny
Attendance 7,868

Rangers exerted a small measure of revenge for the Scottish Cup exit of a fortnight ago with a narrow but deserved 1-0 win over Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park this afternoon courtesy of an early Charlie Adam goal.

The return to the scene of the Scottish Cup debacle saw Manager Walter Smith field eight Scots in a starting line-up that had two enforced changes from last Saturday with new signing David Weir and Nacho Novo replacing the ill Jeremy Clement and the injured Dado Prso against a Pars side that made four changes from their remarkable Scottish Cup triumph with Dorus De Vries, Greg Shields, Gary Mason and Bobby Ryan (making his debut) replacing Roddy McKenzie, Stephen Simmons, Darren Young and Owen Morrison.

Weir incidentally at 36 was the oldest debutant for Rangers since Billy Thomson made his debut in a 2-1 win over Dundee United at Tannadice on 1 April 1995 at the age of 37.

The visitors almost made the perfect start when Novo, through on a Kris Boyd flick, saw his low drive rebound to safety off De Vries' legs in the first minute.

Five minutes later Stephen Crawford tested Allan McGregor with an eighteen-yard drive that the goalkeeper turned wide.

The opening goal when it arrived in eight minutes however fell to Rangers – Adam converting a Novo cross at the far post.

Seven minutes later Barry Ferguson's volley from an Adam cross was saved by De Vries.

It was one-way traffic with the Ibrox men well on top – but the home defence had closed ranks to the extent that it was the half-hour mark before the Dutchman was tested again, holding a Novo effort from twenty yards after the little Spaniard had broken forward.

Dunfermline pressed hard for the equaliser with the interval fast approaching – and had a loud penalty claim denied in 42 minutes when Crawford's volley from a Jim Hamilton header was blocked by Karl Svensson. If it was handball, and that was doubtful, the shot was blasted at point-blank range and could not by any definition be regarded as intentional.

Rangers restarted in search of a second goal – Ferguson seeing his twenty-yard drive from Brahim Hemdani's pass beaten out by De Vries in fifty minutes.

Nine minutes later the game exploded when Phil McGuire, already booked, felled Novo off the ball. Referee John Underhill saw nothing amiss.

The Ibrox striker almost provided the perfect answer on the hour when his exquisite chip from a Ferguson pass was clawed away at full stretch by De Vries, then from the resultant Adam corner Svensson headed wide.

The aftermath of that Novo-McGuire incident continued three minutes later when the Ranger was yellow-carded for a late tackle that obviously had its' origins in the earlier clash.

Thomas Buffel replaced the ineffective Chris Burke in 69 minutes, and soon afterwards the Belgian created an opening for Boyd whose shot on the turn was blocked by De Vries.

The points should have been wrapped up long before now – and they almost were in 78 minutes when Ferguson's low cross was inches away from being converted by the inrushing Boyd and Adam.

Three minutes later, unbelievably, the scores might have been levelled when Hamilton headed over from substitute Adam Hamill's cross.

Boyd should have sealed the win in 87 minutes when he somehow headed a Novo cross over an unguarded net – and that miss might have proved fatal as the Pars besieged the Light Blue goal in the 88th minute via a Scott Morrison free-kick, when firstly Scott Muirhead's drive was charged down by McGregor then former Ranger Greg Shields' effort from the rebound was blocked on the line.

Rangers survived and in the dying seconds Filip Sebo replaced Novo.
Afterwards a relieved Walter Smith reflected: “I'm very pleased with the result. Dunfermline worked very hard throughout the game and were a credit to their manager. We had chances to extend our lead, but couldn't get the second goal. We handled the pressure well.”

DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC: De Vries; Shields, Wilson, McGuire, S. Morrison; O'Brien (Muirhead 76), Ross (McIntyre 76), Mason, Ryan (Hamill 45); Hamilton, Crawford
UNUSED SUBS: McKenzie, McCunnie, Woods, Williamson

RANGERS: McGregor; Hutton, Svensson, Weir, Murray; Burke (Buffel 69), Ferguson, Hemdani, Adam; Novo (Sebo 90), Boyd
UNUSED SUBS: Klos, Papac, Rae, Lennon, Lowing

REFEREE: John Underhill