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Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Saturday, 25 October 2008 14:21 UK

Hamilton Accies 1-3 Rangers

By Clive Lindsay

Kris Boyd celebrates at New Douglas Park
Boyd recently retired from from the Scotland team under George Burley

Kris Boyd answered his critics with a double as Rangers came from a goal behind to beat Hamilton Accies.

Accies broke the deadlock when Brian Easton headed home from an Alex Neil free-kick after 25 minutes.

But Boyd, who controversially retired from the Scotland set-up this month, fired home the equaliser from the spot.

Boyd looked offside when he headed the second and Spaniard Nacho Novo, who expressed his interest in playing for Scotland this week, slotted the third.

Driving rain and a swirling wind had ensured that this was no example of the beautiful game, but Rangers manager Walter Smith will like the look of the way they managed to grind out the three points needed to maintain their challenge at the top of the Scottish Premier League.

His opposite number, Billy Reid, had made a brave decision by introducing three inexperienced players to a side that had stuttered after a promising start to their return to the top flight.

Left-back James Gibson featured in central midfield, fellow 19-year-old Lucas Akins was given a rare start up front, while recent signing Trent McClenahan was given his first start as Reid attempted to plug the leaks that have bedevilled the Accies rearguard in recent weeks.

Smith obviously thought he could exploit that weakness, giving a vote of confidence to Boyd, who replaced Jean-Claude Darcheville, after the striker's decision to retire from the Scotland set-up in protest at not being played by George Burley.

Boyd has a record of scoring freely against less fashionable opposition, but there was little threat at either end during the early stages.

The conditions meant it was a day for keeping the ball on the deck, which ought to have suited two sides whose passing football has been much praised in the first quarter of the season.

But it was a high ball into the box that created the first moment of real danger after 25 minutes.

Simon Mensing rose above goalkeeper Allan McGregor to meet a Neil corner and his header thumped off the face of the bar from four yards.

Rangers failed to heed the warning as, moments later, Accies ended a wait of just under seven hours for an SPL goal.

Brian Easton heads Accies into the lead
Easton headed Hamilton into the lead against Rangers

Neil's free-kick to the back post evaded goalkeeper and defence and Easton, who had been linked with a January move to West Ham in a morning newspaper, managed to squeeze his header home from the tightest of angles.

Rangers were as flat as they were in losing to St Mirren in their last outing until drawing level after 41 minutes.

McClenahan appeared to panic when Kirk Broadfoot's cross found Miller and the former Hereford defender's push in the striker's back led to a penalty driven home by Boyd.

Rangers were in front within five minutes of the re-start, but Boyd looked to be offside when Davies sent in a driven cross that was diverted home off the striker's head from eight yards after he stole in in on the blindside of Martin Canning.

The goal appeared to dampen Accies' spirits and only a good save at full stretch from Tomas Cerny denied Miller as he tried to curl home a drive from the edge of the box.

Substitute Novo pounced on a misplaced pass in the Accies defence to drive the ball past the goalkeeper and make sure of the points after 80 minutes.

Hamilton Academical manager Billy Reid:
"I think we deserved to be ahead. I thought we mastered the conditions better than Rangers and for spells in the first half controlled the game.

"We lost a silly, needless goal. Our full-back got caught on the wrong side from a free-kick and that's frustrating.

"We are a wee bit inexperienced, but we know that. We had two 19-year-olds who came in and did well.

"We are disappointed and frustrated to lose five games on the bounce. We are still losing too many goals, but my players are giving me everything."

Rangers manager Walter Smith:
"I felt we were slow to start the game. We didn't impose ourselves on the match as we should have done.

"But, after we settled down a little bit and after we got ourselves in front, we could've had a few more goals if we'd had a slightly better final pass.

"Overall, it was always going to be a difficult game for us, not just because of the conditions.

"It was Hamilton's first home game against one of the Old Firm teams since winning promotion. It was always going to be a big occasion for them."

Hamilton: Cerny, Mensing (Offiong 84), Swailes, Canning, Easton, McArthur, McCarthy, Neil, McClenahan, Akins (Corcoran 68), Gibson (Graham 67).
Subs Not Used: Murdoch, Elebert, Casement, Ettien.

Goals: Easton 26.

Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Weir, Bougherra, Papac, Davis, Mendes, Thomson, Beasley (Novo 75), Boyd, Miller (Lafferty 83).
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Dailly, Loy, McMillan, Darcheville.

Goals: Boyd 42 pen, 50, Novo 80.

Att: 4,613

Ref: D McDonald

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Kris Boyd 7.55 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
I have nothing to prove - Boyd
25 Oct 08 |  Rangers
SPL as it happened
25 Oct 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
25 Oct 08 |  Scottish Premier

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