Gers beat Buddies to reclaim top spot

Rangers recorded a 3-1 win over St Mirren on Sunday to reclaim top spot in the SPL even if the victory was not quite as impressive as Celtic's.

Last Updated: 07/11/10 at 14:42 Post Comment

Naismith: Scores for Rangers

Naismith: Scores for Rangers

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The Hoops' 9-0 win over Aberdeen yesterday saw them move into pole position and heap the pressure on their Old Firm rivals ahead of Sunday's lunchtime visit to New St Mirren Park.

But a Marc McAusland own goal and strikes from Steven Naismith and Kenny Miller saw Rangers return to the summit of the SPL, despite Michael Higdon netting from the penalty spot late on for Saints.

Vladimir Weiss was back in the Rangers side after being passed fit for the visit to Paisley. He recovered from a heel problem to make the starting line-up, with Kirk Broadfoot dropping to the bench following the midweek Champions League defeat in Valencia.

St Mirren made one change from their win over Aberdeen last week, with Hugh Murray replacing Higdon for the visit of the Scottish champions.

Danny Lennon's men could have snatched an early opener had Paul McGowan been more clinical with a shot just outside the area which trundled harmlessly past the post, failing to trouble Allan McGregor in the Rangers goal.

St Mirren then had the ball in the back of the net after 13 minutes but referee Craig Thomson had already blown for a foul on McGregor, after Gareth Wardlaw clattered into the Rangers number one, before Aaron Mooy rifled home.

Rangers had the chance to pile on the pressure when Weiss won a free-kick on the edge of the box and Saints could only look on in relief as Steven Davis' curling effort sailed above the wall and hit the crossbar.

Murray had picked up the first booking for a challenge on Maurice Edu and he was joined in the referee's book by David van Zanten and Weiss who were both cautioned after clashing with each other.

With half-time fast approaching, Sasa Papac teed up the header for Edu at the back post but the American nodded well over, before Papac himself fired wide of the upright.

Rangers then had a goal disallowed just before the break when Naismith and Craig Samson both went for the ball which ended up in the back of the net.

The effort was chalked off, although the goalkeeper's frustrated reaction suggested he thought he had just conceded the opener, rather than being the victim of a foul.

Any controversy over their disallowed goal was tempered when Rangers did take the lead three minutes after the restart.

Kyle Lafferty replaced Weiss at the break and he got the slightest of touches on a Davis cross before McAusland nodded into the back of his own net to hand Walter Smith's men the advantage.

Naismith then added his own name to the scoresheet after 58 minutes, when Lafferty delivered a lovely ball across the face of goal from the left and all that was required was the simplest of finishes to tap home from a few yards.

It was proving to be a nightmare afternoon for McAusland, who failed to deal with a long ball, before being robbed of possession by Miller, who gleefully dispatched a low shot past Samson after 68 minutes.

Saints could have hauled themselves back into the game when Madjid Bougherra's attempts to clear a Jure Travner effort saw him hit his own crossbar, before McGregor pulled off a superb save to deny Wardlaw from the rebound.

The Buddies did manage to pull a goal back after 75 minutes when Davis was ruled to have handled in the area. Papac earned himself a caution for his furious protests before substitute Higdon converted from the penalty spot.

Rangers could have restored their three-goal lead when Lafferty's cutback was met by Miller who lashed well over. He knew he should have done better although by then there was little doubt the points would be returning to Ibrox.

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