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Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009

Hamilton Accies 0-1 Rangers

By Clive Lindsay

Kenny Miller, Barry Ferguson and Maurice Edu celebrate the opening goal
Ferguson (centre) opened the scoring at New Douglas Park

Barry Ferguson's first goal of the season gave Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers a comfortable victory over a stuffy Hamilton Accies.

Kyle Lafferty and Kenny Miller had already tested goalkeeper Tomas Cerny before Ferguson fired the ball through a forest of legs and into the net.

A Miller head-flick later sent the ball against the underside of Accies' bar.

In-form Hamilton were rarely a threat, much to the disappointment of a record 5,898 crowd for New Douglas Park.

The Glasgow side had suffered a pre-kick-off blow with Pedro Mendes missing out with a thigh strain he picked up in training, allowing a rare start in midfield for Maurice Edu.

Lafferty came in for teenager John Fleck on the left and the Northern Irishman made a lively start, forcing Cerny to push the ball clear with a snap shot from 20 yards.

Rangers had scored 10 goals against Hamilton in their two previous meetings this season and the visitors looked capable of breaching the Accies defence at will again as Steven Davis headed wide from 12 yards from a Miller cross.

But Hamilton began to show why they have had a good run of results that have lifted them clear of the relegation zone and led to scouts from England and Italy beating a path to New Douglas Park.

Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor had to beat away a James McCarthy cross-cum-shot to the front post and, from the corner, Martin Canning's close-range header was blocked on its way to goal.

Canning had returned to the starting line-up after missing out through injury last weekend and was a straight swap for the injured Mark McLaughlin.

Martin Canning challenges Rangers' Madjid Bougherra
Canning (left) was back in the Hamilton defence against Rangers

But, shortly after Miller weaved his way into the penalty box and forced Cerny to push his powerful drive over the crossbar, manager Billy Reid made another change.

Having started with three in defence, Reid reverted to a back four by replacing 38-year-old Chris Swailes, who had been troubled by Miller's pace, with speedy teenager James Gibson after just 23 minutes.

However, the change could not prevent the flow of play towards the Accies goal and the visitors made the breakthrough after 34 minutes.

The ball fell to Ferguson on the edge of the box following a corner and the Rangers captain's low snap-shot nestled into the far corner of the net.

It was the Scotland midfielder's first goal of a season in which he has admitted disappointment in his own form - and the first Hamilton had conceded at home in the league since Celtic scored there in November.

A Kirk Broadfoot shot was deflected towards goal by Miller and off the underside of the bar, while Ferguson sent another powerful effort just over the crossbar.

Reid again shuffled his formation after the break, but it was still all too easy for Rangers, although a powerful drive straight at Cerny by Kris Boyd from 18 yards was a rare moment of real threat to the Accies goalkeeper.

Davis screwed the ball wide after being found by Boyd on the edge of the box following a quick break, but Rangers had to be content with a narrow victory against a side who failed to match their recent form.


Hamilton manager Billy Reid:
"We weren't at our best today and didn't start at all well. The first half was disappointing; it's not like us not to get in about teams.

"In the second half our effort and endeavour was fantastic but we didn't create any real chances.

"We pushed them all the way but the best team won.

"But we didn't have that cutting edge, that little bit of quality that we've had in recent weeks."

Rangers manager Walter Smith:

"I'm obviously delighted with the win but a little more calmness and care in the last third in that second half and we might have added to the score.

"I think a lot of people underestimate how hard it is to go and win a game. Hamilton were unbeaten in six games and are the form team in the league.

"But we showed a brightness and a determination today.

"Maurice Edu came in and played exceptionally well today and I think he's got a terrific future."


Hamilton: Cerny, McClenahan (Elebert 49), Swailes (Gibson 24), Neil, Canning (Deuchar 62), Easton, McGowan, Mensing, McArthur, McCarthy, Offiong.
Subs Not Used: Murdoch, Thomas, Lyle, Quinn.

Booked: Mensing, Neil.

Rangers: McGregor, Broadfoot, Weir, Bougherra, Papac, Davis, Ferguson, Edu, Lafferty (Whittaker 74), Boyd, Miller (Naismith 84).
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Beasley, Dailly, Niguez, Fleck.

Booked: Ferguson, Davis.

Goals: Ferguson 35.

Att: 5,895

Ref: C Thomson


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Rangers' Barry Ferguson 7.75 (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
SPL as it happened
28 Feb 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
28 Feb 09 |  Scotland
McCarthy, Easton attract interest
28 Feb 09 |  Hamilton


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