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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 15:54 UK

Falkirk 0-1 Rangers

By Colin Moffat

Kris Boyd celebrates his early goal at Falkirk
Boyd was on target for the 25th time this season

Rangers closed the gap on Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic to three points with a low-key victory.

Kris Boyd smashed in his 25th goal of the season from six yards when he converted a smart pass from Nacho Novo after nine minutes.

Falkirk, battling to avoid the drop, saw a lot of the ball but were toothless in attack.

There was a scare for Rangers when keeper Neil Alexander dropped a late cross but his mistake went unpunished.

Rangers were in search of a positive reaction following the internal suspensions meted out to skipper Barry Ferguson and goalkeeper Allan McGregor for their high-profile indiscretions while on Scotland duty.

And with the first real attack of the game, Pedro Mendes slipped the ball through to Novo on the left and the Spaniard sped past the ponderous Steven Pressley to cut back for Boyd to rifle home.

Falkirk responded well but struggled to transform their neat possession into an attacking threat and Alexander only had to deal with a tame Scott Arfield strike from distance in a drab first half.


Novo was looking lively on the counter-attack and twice found promising space only to collide with Boyd on the first occasion, while his progress was later halted by a fantastic sliding challenge from Jackie McNamara.

The ball fell invitingly to Burton O'Brien early in the second half but the Falkirk midfielder sliced his shot from the edge of the penalty area high over the crossbar.

Thomas Scobbie, Patrick Cregg and Carl Finnigan also tried their luck from distance but their efforts all sailed harmlessly off target.

Falkirk continued to pin Rangers back for long spells but Alexander remained largely inactive as the hosts struggled to find a telling final pass.

The visitors rarely looked like adding to their lead, with a Pedro Mendes shot flashing high and wide on 80 minutes their only moment of menace after the interval.

There was a late scramble in the Rangers penalty area when Alexander failed to gather a cross but the division's bottom club could not capitalise.

Falkirk manager John Hughes:

"At the end of the day Rangers are away with the three points. To lose a goal within nine minutes gave us a mountain to climb.

"But to be fair to the boys they gave it a right good go and our ball retention was good although we could've created more.

"In the last half hour we changed our system to be more direct.

"We're disappointed we didn't take something from the match. At times we got at Rangers but they stood firm; so you have to take your hat off to them."

Rangers manager Walter Smith:

"We're delighted to get the win, since it's always awkward at Falkirk.

"But it was a frustrating performance. We didn't pass the ball well and never got any consistency of possession.

"We defended well, especially at the end when we were put under a bit of pressure as they went more direct.

"We had a few opportunities on the break but squandered them with our final ball."

Falkirk : Dani Mallo, McNamara, Scobbie, Bullen (Aafjes 68), Pressley, McBride (Moffat 80), Arfield, O'Brien, Cregg (Higdon 64), McCann, Finnigan. Subs Not Used: Olejnik, Holden, Riera, Mitchell.

Booked : Cregg.

Rangers : Alexander, Whittaker, Papac, Weir, Bougherra, McCulloch (Edu 76), Davis, Fleck (Naismith 60), Boyd (Velicka 86), Mendes, Novo. Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Dailly, Niguez, Little.

Booked : McCulloch, Whittaker, Boyd, Bougherra.

Goal : Boyd 9.

Att : 6,853

Ref : I Brines

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see also
SPL photo gallery
05 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL as it happened
05 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier

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