Hard slog for Gers
By Southside Johnny
Updated Saturday, 9th February 2008
Rangers 2 (Boyd 22, Naismith 88) Falkirk 0Rangers moved seven points clear at the top of the SPL
with a 2-0 win over Falkirk at Ibrox this afternoon -
but it was at times a grim struggle for the Light
Blues with the second and clinching goal coming as
late as 88 minutes.
Manager Walter Smith made three changes from Easter
Road with Steven Whittaker, Kris Boyd and Jean-Claude
Darcheville replacing Sasa Papac, Charlie Adam and
A one-minute silence in memory of the late Davie
Kinnear was immaculately observed prior to kick-off.
It took a long time for the game to burst into life as
Rangers unusually attacked towards the Copland Road
Stand in the first-half.
Finally the 48,590 crowd had something to cheer when
the deadlock was broken in 22 minutes when Boyd netted
with a 22-yard free-kick.
Ten minutes later Carlos Cuellar's snap-shot from
fully thirty yards was held by visiting goalkeeper
Olejnik again kept his side in the game in 35 minutes
when he dived at the feet of Darcheville to halt the
striker's penetrating run.
It had been a poor first-half, but Boyd almost added a
second goal two minutes before the interval when his
volley from a Chris Burke corner was parried by
Ferguson might have done better than shoot wide of the
target when he swivelled on a Darcheville cutback in
The nervousness of the crowd was underlined by the
audible apprehension that greeted the introduction of
former Ranger Russell Latapy five minutes later -
recognising that this was a player who could turn the
game, underlined by the way in which the 'Bairns'
controlled the game for the next ten minutes,
retaining possession almost at will.
Steven Naismith replaced Boyd in 65 minutes, and two
minutes later Cuellar's header from a Barry Ferguson
chip was inches wide as Rangers attempted to
re-establish their first-half command.
One sweeping move in 69 minutes saw a Lee McCulloch -
Naismith move down the left end with a cross to
Ferguson whose shot was turned over the bar by
Olejnik, then from the resultant Chris Burke corner
David Weir's header was scrambled clear.
Burke himself was next to test Olejnik two minutes
later, his wide-angled drive being fisted over by
For all their earlier possession Falkirk had yet to
register a solitary shot on target, although that
might have changed in 73 minutes when Patrick Cregg,
clean through, was thwarted by a timely tackle from
Cuellar as he was about to pull the trigger.
Seven minutes later Naismith's chip found Burke in
good position, but a weak effort was easily saved by
Victory was finally sealed in 88 minutes when Naismith
dispossessed Darren Barr before slotting the ball
It might even have been 3-0 sixty seconds later when
substitute Nacho Novo's shot from Ferguson's
crossfield pass was deflected over.
Rangers had secured another three crucial points, and
afterwards Walter Smith reflected:
"It was a frustrating afternoon. We started well
enough. Falkirk played very well, and made sure they
wouldn't lose seven goals again. I'm delighted at the
good run we're on at present."
RANGERS McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, Cuellar, Whittaker;
Burke, Ferguson, Hemdani, McCulloch; Boyd (Naismith
65), Darcheville (Novo 82)
UNUSED SUBS Alexander, Davis, Dailly, Furman, Fleck
FALKIRK Olejnik; Ross, Barr, Scobbie, Milne (Latapy
53); Moutinho (Clarke 60), Cregg, Aafjes, Arfield,
UNUSED SUBS Supple, Bradley, Mitchell, Stewart,
REFEREE Brian Winter