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Page last updated at 20:46 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 21:46 UK

St Mirren 1-2 Rangers

By Andy Campbell

Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu
Edu's headed goal proved to be the winner at St Mirren Park

Rangers survived a spirited second-half display by hosts St Mirren to record an important Scottish Premier League victory in Paisley.

Kris Boyd opened the scoring after 12 minutes, slamming the ball into the net at the end of a superb passing move.

Maurice Edu headed his first Rangers goal seven minutes later from a corner.

Andy Dorman pulled one back for St Mirren 11 minutes into the second half and Rangers had to defend stoutly to ensure victory.

The result means Rangers remain three points behind SPL leaders Celtic, while St Mirren are still second-bottom, three points above Falkirk.

Both sides had injury scares in the opening minutes with Rangers' DaMarcus Beasley and St Mirren's Gary Mason requiring treatment for head knocks.

Beasley, a surprise inclusion for the visitors, hit the deck again after being caught by the outstretched foot of John Potter and the American briefly left the field before playing a part in the opening goal.

The winger combined with Pedro Mendes to release Sasa Papac on the left and the Bosnian's crisp cutback was despatched into the net by Boyd.

Nacho Novo was then introduced as a substitute for the limping Beasley.

Rangers missed an excellent chance to double their tally in the 17th minute when goalkeeper Mark Howard flapped Madjid Bougherra's cross and Novo laid the ball back to Boyd, who dragged his shot wide of the gaping goal.

But it was not long until the visitors found the net again as Mendes' inswinging corner was bulleted past Howard by Edu.

Andy Dorman and Billy Mehmet
Dorman (left) gave St Mirren hope with a second-half strike

A late challenge by St Mirren's Craig Dargo on Papac led to another enforced substitution for Rangers, with Christian Dailly introduced from the bench.

St Mirren began to pressurise Rangers with a series of corners, but some stubborn defending frustrated the hosts before Boyd's header from a Steven Davis cross was held by Howard shortly before the interval.

Boyd claimed for a penalty early in the second half after his header appeared to strike the arm of Potter before Dargo's dipping volley was collected by keeper Neil Alexander.

Another incisive Mendes pass set Boyd through on goal and the striker's first-team shot was claimed by Howard at the second attempt.

The Buddies halved Rangers' lead when Dorman latched on to Dargo's weighted pass and side-footed into the net via Alexander's left-hand post.

That goal revitalised St Mirren and Rangers found themselves under increasing pressure from set plays.

Novo could have relieved the pressure on his team-mates when he raced on to Boyd's through ball, but the Spaniard's low drive was powerfully blocked by the advancing Howard.

St Mirren continued to be the more enterprising side but could not unlock the Rangers back four in the closing stages.

St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson:

"If you give a team with the strength of Rangers a two-goal start, it's always going to be an uphill task.

"But we made a go of it in the second half and I was proud of the players.

"In the past, we've collapsed after losing early goals, but we played with urgency and a good tempo."

Rangers manager Walter Smith:

"We managed to get ourselves 2-0 in front and then missed out on a win against Hearts the other week and I felt we were going to do that again.

"But fortunately we managed to hold on after a terrific first half of the match.

"St Mirren became very direct in the second half, they played the ball forward really early and got plenty of players up behind it. That increased the tempo.

"They had a lot of territorial pressure in the first 20-25 minutes of the second half and managed to get the one goal, which was actually an error from ourselves.

"We're delighted to get three points. When we look at the last two games that we've had, Falkirk and St Mirren are both fighting relegation, so they're not going to be easy teams to play against and I think we're the first team to win at the new St Mirren Park.

"We just have to keep winning, that will be the main thing in the end."

St Mirren: Howard, Ross, Potter (Haining 90), Cuthbert, Camara, Thomson, Dorman, Mason (Hamilton 85), McGinn, Dargo, Mehmet.
Subs Not Used: Mathers, Brady, Barron, McAusland, Quinn.

Booked: Camara, Ross.

Goals: Dorman 56.

Rangers: Alexander, Whittaker, Bougherra, Weir, Papac (Dailly 36), Davis, Edu, Mendes, Naismith, Boyd, Beasley (Novo 15), Novo (Velicka 90).
Subs Not Used: Graeme Smith, Niguez, Lennon, Fleck.

Booked: Bougherra, Boyd.

Goals: Boyd 12, Edu 19.

Att: 6,231

Ref: E Smith

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: St Mirren's Andy Dorman 7.61 (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
Duo added to Rangers injury list
08 Apr 09 |  Rangers
SPL - as it happened
08 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
08 Apr 09 |  Scottish Premier

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