Rangers Go Seven Points Clear

Last updated : 26 January 2008 By Southside Johnny
Rangers moved seven points clear at the top of the SPL
with a comfortable 4-0 win over St. Mirren at Ibrox
this afternoon with Steven Whittaker the unlikely
two-goal hero - but it was a victory that in the final
analysis should have been much more emphatic than the
eventual final scoreline.

Manager Walter Smith made five changes from Wednesday
with Allan McGregor, David Weir, Carlos Cuellar, Chris
Burke and Barry Ferguson replacing Graeme Smith, Sasa
Papac, Kirk Broadfoot, Alan Gow and Lee McCulloch.

The game kicked off in dreadful weather conditions
with an icy, driving rain sweeping across the new
pitch, which nevertheless looked in pristine

It was the visitors who threatened first - Billy
Mehmet's header from an Ian Maxwell cross being
touched wide by McGregor in ten minutes.

Eight minutes later the first yellow card of the
afternoon would prove costly, Will Haining being
booked by Referee Mike Tumilty for a foul on
Jean-Claude Darcheville.

The near-capacity crowd were becoming restless at the
lack of action from the home side, although Ferguson
did test Chris Smith with a free-kick from the edge of
the box that the Saints goalkeeper held in twenty

The Paisley men were dominating play in these early
stages, with Mehmet's twenty-yard shot on the turn six
minutes later held by McGregor.

The opening goal when it arrived immediately
thereafter came against the run of play at the other
end - Chris Burke coolly netting at the far post from
a Ferguson chip.

Sixty seconds later it should have been two when
Darcheville's powerful run and cross on the right
found Kris Boyd in the centre only for the srtiker to
head over.

The roof was falling in on St. Mirren nevertheless -
they were reduced to ten men on the half-hour mark
when Haining received his second yellow and subsequent
red for a foul on Alan Hutton.

Two minutes later it was 2-0 when Boyd netted from a
reverse Darcheville pass.

Rangers were rampant now - and Whiitaker added a third
in 36 minutes with he curled a right-foot shot low
into the corner from a Ferguson pass.

Five minutes later the full-back saw his 25-yard drive
from a Charlie Adam cross held by Smith.

Rangers finished the half in total control - and were
inches away from adding a fourth immediately after the
restart when Adam's hanging cross from the left
touchline almost caught Smith by surprise, the
goalkeeper touching the ball over the bar.

Twelve minutes later Burke should have done better
when released by Darcheville's slide-rule pass - with
Boyd unmarked in the middle the winger sliced the ball
wide of the target.

Steven Naismith replaced Darcheville in 63 minutes,
and almost made an instant impact - his through-ball
sending Boyd clear only for the outrushing Smith to
block his effort.

The Ibrox men were coasting - although Saints did
threaten to reduce the deficit in 77 minutes when Andy
Dorman's shot from a David Van Zanten cutback was held
by McGregor.

Three minutes later it was 4-0 when Whittaker rifled
home a right-foot shot from a Naismith pass.

Ferguson was denied by Smith in 84 minutes, his volley
following a Nacho Novo corner being beaten out by the
Paisley 'keeper.

Three minutes later Naismith's cutback was mishit wide
by Boyd - but Rangers were comfortable winners and
afterwards a relaxed Walter Smith summarised:

"We had lots of possession, it was disappointing not
to add more goals. We are actively looking for players
who would improve the team."

RANGERS McGregor; Hutton, Weir, Cuellar, Whittaker;
Burke (Novo 78), Ferguson, Hemdani, Adam (McCulloch
70); Boyd, Darcheville (Naismith 63)
UNUSED SUBS G. Smith, Broadfoot, Furman, Fleck

ST. MIRREN Smith; Barron, Potter, Haining, Maxwell;
Van Zanten, Murray (McGinn 73), Brady, Dorman (Burke
86), Corcoran; Mehmet (Kean 64)
UNUSED SUBS Howard, Dargo, Miranda, McCay

REFEREE Mike Tumilty

Attendance 49,198