Season Closes with a Draw at Dunfermline

Last updated : 14 May 2002 By Follow Follow

Making an emotional farewell appearance for the home side was former Rangers' stalwart (and Pars' Captain) Ian Ferguson, who will shortly depart these shores with his family for Australia, whilst making his first-team debut for the visitors was 17-year-old Tom Brighton with youth team colleague Chris Burke making his first start.

Manager Alex McLeish made sweeping changes from the Cup Final heroes, with only four survivors, namely Lorenzo Amoruso (who wore the captain's armband), Maurice Ross, Craig Moore and Neil McCann.

It took all of fifteen minutes for 'Fergie' to make his mark with a foul on Brighton.

The opening exchanges were typical end-of-season fair, with chances almost non-existent.

Rangers snatched the opening goal in 27 minutes
however when an inswinging Neil McCann corner found Craig Moore who headed home.

The home side were soon forcing the pace in search of the equaliser - Colin Nish should have done better in 35 minutes when a Stewart Petrie cross found him with room to spare, only for Allan McGregor to block his close-range effort.

Sixty seconds later Ferguson came close when his 22-yard shot flashed wide of the target.

The half ended with an Amoruso free-kick from twenty yards that Dunfermline goalkeeper Marco Ruitenbeek turned wide.

It had been an instantly forgettable first-half, and the opening quarter of the second was little better. Ian Ferguson did create an opening for Stevie Crawford on the hour, only for the centre to shoot across the face of goal.

Michael Mols was introduced to the fray seconds later, replacing Tom Brighton, and almost made a quick impact when his header from a McCann cross drifted over.

The home side were coming more and more into the game as the half wore on - Scott Thomson's surging run in 72 minutes ended with a twenty yard drive that was held by McGregor.

Two minutes later Craig Moore - obviously in some discomfort - was substituted by Russell Latapy.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Michael Mols should have sealed victory for Rangers when he made a superb turn on a McCann cross only to shoot wide.

It was a bad miss - and one that would prove costly.

Ian Ferguson was substituted to a standing ovation from all parts of the ground one minute later.

Rangers' Youth team Captain Andy Dowie made his first-team debut in 82 minutes when he replaced Christian Nerlinger.

The Pars were pushing for an equaliser in the dying minutes - McGregor again came to the rescue in blocking a Nish effort, but was helpless when it duly arrived in 86 minutes as Stevie Crawford seized on a Colin Nish head-flick to drive home a low shot into the corner of the net.

At the final whistle Ian Ferguson took a bow wearing firstly a 'Nine-In-A-Row' top before the visiting fans, then a 'Top Six' one in front of his home crowd.

Alex McLeish afterwards stressed how well the young players had fared - six Under-21 players taking part in the game.

Ian Ferguson described the game as an emotional end to his career:

"I got a nice reaction from both sets of fans."

'Fergie' also reflected on his early days as a youngster training under Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen, and being told that he was "too wee" - a memory that was also recalled by Alex McLeish.

DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC Ruitenbeek; Skerla, Nicholls
(Kilgannon 56), Scott Y Thomson; Nicholson, Ferguson (McGarty 81), Mason, McLeish (Blair 86), Petrie; Nish, Crawford

UNUSED SUBS. Harrower, Sutherland

RANGERS McGregor; Ross, Moore (Latapy 74), Amoruso, Vidmar; Burke, Malcolm, Nerlinger (Dowie 82), McCann; Dodds, Brighton (Mols 60)

UNUSED SUBS. Smith, Numan

REFEREE Mike McCurry