better meddle...

wi' the de'il than the bairns o' fa'kirk

Match Report

Tuesday, 22nd January, 2008

by Julian Peck

Rangers 3 Falkirk 1

Both sides finished with 10 men as Patrick Cregg and Sasa Papac saw red, but Rangers claimed victory through a Kris Boyd double and a late strike from Steve Davis.

New signing Steven Pressley made his debut for the Bairns, and took his place in a back five alongside Lee Bullen, Darren Barr, Jackie McNamara and Tam Scobbie.

Midfielder Cregg returned to the team while two of last weekend's starters, Michael Higdon and Graeme Barrett, dropped to the bench. Lovell, meanwhile, was named as a lone striker in a 5-4-1 formation.

Falkirk started with purpose, enjoying plenty of possession and knocking the ball around with confidence, and they snatched a dramatic lead with 12 minutes on the clock.

Neil McCann was the architect, threading a neat pass through to Lovell who beat his marker to the ball before slotting past the diving Allan McGregor and into the bottom right corner.

Rangers were soon sparked into action and Papac tried a lobbed shot that drifted harmlessly wide before Kenny Miller's effort from 16 yards was superbly tipped onto the bar and over by Robert Olejnik.

The home had a shout for a penalty with 10 minutes of the half remaining, yet Olejnik clearly made contact with the ball after racing from his goal line to challenge the onrushing Boyd.

Miller almost found the net seconds later but dragged his low shot across goal and past the far post, and Pedro Mendes then sent a powerful volley fizzing over the bar.

Yet Rangers did grab the equaliser on the stroke of half-time, albeit it in controversial circumstances.Boyd gathered a pass just inside the box but was quick to hit the deck when Cregg challenged.

The Gers hitman had already collected the ball in his hands by the time Collum pointed to the spot and duly made no mistake with the penalty kick, slamming the ball past Olejnik.

Worse was to follow for Falkirk, six minutes after the break, when Cregg was given his marching orders for what Collum deemed to be a dangerous challenge on Mendes.

Rangers continued to push for a second goal and Boyd's downward header from John Fleck's cross was well held by Olejnik on the hour mark.

Miller then should have done better than stab a shot straight into the keeper's arms and Kirk Broadfoot's headed effort was expertly turned away by the Bairns keeper for a corner.

In the 78th minute Papac's cynical last-man challenge on substitute Mark Stewart resulted in a straight red card.

But Rangers still went ahead two minutes later when Olejnik could only parry Nacho Novo's low drive and Boyd tapped home from four yards.

Falkirk continued to search for a second goal Stewart headed over as the game drew to a close.

Yet it was Davis who grabbed an excellent third for the home side in the dying seconds when he beat the challenges of Kevin McBride and Holden with some clever footwork before drilling the ball into the bottom corner.

"We've come here before and tried to attack but we set our stall out differently this time and it almost went to plan," said Falkirk boss John Hughes. "To then get a goal was a real bonus.

"However, we stopped passing after that and were sitting too deep.

"The penalty was soul destroying, although I don't think it was one, and it changed the game.

"I won't take anything away from Rangers, though. We were camped in, but they were patient and picked up the three points."