Stroll in the rain for Rangers

Last updated : 15 January 2005 By Southside Johnny
Rangers moved back to the top of the League, for 24
hours at least, with a comfortable 3-0 win over
Dunfermline Athletic at Ibrox this afternoon - a win
that should certainly have been much more comfortable.

Manager Alex McLeish made three changes from last week
with Maurice Ross making a surprise appearance
alongside Bob Malcolm and Thomas Buffel (on his home
debut) replacing Alan Hutton, Zurab Khizanishvili and
the suspended Nacho Novo. Also making his first Ibrox
outing was Bojan Djordjic.

Heavy rain was falling as the game got under way, with
the pitch looking threadbare.

Dunfermline, with former Ranger Barry Nicholson in
their line-up, had not won at Ibrox for all of 33
years, and indeed had not kept a clean sheet in Govan
for even longer - 38 years to be precise, a goalless
draw in October 1967 representing the last game as
Rangers' Manager for Scot Symon.

Few amongst the 48,055 spectators could have seriously
doubted the continuation of that particular run, even
amongst the pitifully small travelling support, and so
it proved as early as the fifth minute when Steven
Thompson swept home the opening goal from a Hamed
Namouchi cross - the ball being nicked away from
Buffel as he arrived at the near post.

There was a lull in the action for some twenty minutes
thereafter, almost as if both sides believed that
early goal had settled the outcome - although Stefan
Klos had to be alert to hold a 25-yard shot from
Jesper Christiansen in 27 minutes.

Thompson should have notched his own and Rangers'
second seven minutes later after seizing onto an Andy
Tod back-header only to be dispossessed as he rounded
Pars' goalkeeper Derek Stillie.

The second goal was delayed for a mere three minutes
however - Marvin Andrews stabbing the ball home after
Fernando Ricksen's corner had broken to him off
Stillie under pressure from Hamed Namouchi.

New boy Djordjic was coming onto a game after an
anxious start when he appeared to be trying too hard,
but he should certainly have opened his goal-scoring
account in forty minutes when Ricksen broke through
and squared for the Swede unmarked in front of goal
who somehow managed to blast the ball onto and over
the crossbar.

Rangers restarted very much on the offensive -
Namouchi's 48th minute header from an Alex Rae cross
being just over.

Djordjic might have been ruing his first-half miss,
but was certainly not letting it inhibit his game as
he became involved all over the park, and if anything
Ricksen's far post header that somehow missed the
target from Bojan's cross on the hour was even worse.

Two minutes later however it was 3-0 when Alex Rae
netted his first competitive goal for the club with a
header from a Ricksen cross - the ball breaking to
Fernando after Andrews had very nearly brought the
house down with a miss-kick that baffled the entire
visitors' defence, Marvin following up only to see his
second effort blocked.

Chris Burke made a welcome return, replacing Namouchi
in 65 minutes.

Djordjic was causing havoc in the Dunfermline defence
with his inswinging corners from the right - one
vicious effort being only just missed by the inrushing

The Belgrade-born Bojan incredibly fell foul of
Referee Charlie Richmond in 74 minutes, being
yellow-carded for taking a free-kick too quickly, a
decision that really endeared the official to the home

Burke almost made it 4-0 in 83 minutes when his header
from a Thompson cross was just over, but the final
action of the afternoon came at the other end when
Klos held Noel Hunt's eighteen-yard drive.

Alex McLeish afterwards reflected:

"It was an efficient performance. All we can do is
keep winning. We had other chances to score. Our
delivery from wide areas was excellent. We have a
tough game next week at Aberdeen. Thomas Buffel had
good flashes and will improve with fitness."

Bojan Djordjic looked back on his performance with
stunning clarity:

"I enjoyed the game. It was only my second game in
five months; I'm still short of match fitness. I
couldn't have wished for a better start with my new
club, but there's always room for improvement."

On the question of Barry Ferguson returning to
Rangers, the Swede endeared himself to the natives of
Lancashire with this observation:

"I don't understand why Barry left Ibrox for
Blackburn. I mean - have you ever been to Blackburn?
It's not exactly New York!"

RANGERS Klos; Ross, Andrews, Malcolm, Vignal; Namouchi
(Burke 65), Ricksen, A. Rae, Djordjic (Ball 78);
Buffel (Hughes 82), Thompson
UNUSED SUBS Prso, Hutton, McGregor, Khizanishvili

DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC Stillie; Ross, Skerla, Tod,
Thomson; Dempsey, Mason, Makel, Darren Young (Hunt
45); Nicholson, Christiansen
UNUSED SUBS Langfield; Campbell, Wilson, Scullion,

REFEREE Charlie Richmond

Attendance 48,055