better meddle...

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

Match Report

Sunday, 18th January, 2009

by Mark Guidi

Rangers 3-1 Falkirk

THE "For Sale" sign still hovers over the Rangers first-team squad but surely Kris Boyd must be exempt.

The striker bagged a double against the Bairns yesterday to rescue Gers from trouble after Steve Lovell's shock opener.

That took his tally for the campaign to 22 and Steve Davis added a late third to seal victory as Walter Smith's side moved just two points behind Celtic.

Boyd might not be everybody's cup of tea but is priceless to his side. And when it comes down to a choice between a balance sheet and Boyd only one can help Gers win the title.

However, the deadly hitman was slightly overshadowed by John Fleck against Falkirk.

The 17-year-old attacker played wide on the left for Smith's side and made a fine contribution.

He has pace, a fine first touch, good delivery and is always willing to take on his marker.

After this display he deserves to start on Saturday at Aberdeen.

Sasa Papac won't be available for Pittodrie though after picking up a red card in the second half.

Falkirk's Patrick Cregg also headed for an early bath as both sides finished with 10 men.

This was Rangers' first home game since a 1-0 defeat by Celtic left them seven points behind their bitter rivals.

During that period the club have revealed they need to pull in more than £3million in the transfer market this month.

The thought of losing someone like Boyd has angered the fans and the mood at Ibrox deteriorated further when Falkirk scored after 12 minutes yesterday.

Tam Scobbie found Neil McCann down the left and he was given time to turn 20 yards out.

Madjid Bougherra should have closed him down and the former Ibrox winger slipped a lovely pass through for Lovell - who had cleverly run on the blind side of the sleeping Gers defenders.

The Bairns striker managed to fire in a left-foot shot and it trickled under Allan McGregor.

It was no more than Falkirk deserved as they kept possession as well as any other side at Ibrox this season.

With Lovell up top on his own they had an extra man in midfield and used that advantage wisely.

But Rangers always create chances at home and Kirk Broadfoot and Boyd combined to set up Kenny Miller after 27 minutes. The striker cracked in a shot from 18 yards and his effort was well saved by Robert Olejnik.

Gers could have put the Bairns keeper under more pressure but the delivery from Papac and Broadfoot was shocking at times.

However, Rangers got back into the game just before the break when Cregg fouled Boyd in the box.

Yes, it was soft but the Bairns midfielder could have avoided making the challenge. And Boyd made no mistake from the spot.

Falkirk suffered another blow in 53 minutes when Cregg deservedly saw red after catching Pedro Mendes on the knee.

Rangers enjoyed tons of possession after that and McGregor was only tested when he raced out to beat Lovell to a long ball.

Olejnik was in fine form at the other end and did well when Boyd and Broadfoot tested him. Gers hopes of finding a winner took a blow in 78 minutes when Papac was given a straight red for taking Mark Stewart's legs away.

But sub Nacho Novo came up trumps for Smith again when he set up Boyd's second.

Olejnik could only parry a shot from the Spaniard and Boyd was there to bury the rebound.

Davis then made it 3-1 right in stoppage-time when he drilled home a fine individual goal.

REF WATCH: WILLIE COLLUM had lots of big calls to make and got nearly all of them correct - apart from the Sasa Papac red card. The Gers ace deserved only a booking. Rating: 6/10.