Saturday, January 16, 2010
Proud new papa Nacho Novo scored a 78th minute goal lifting Maurice Edu and Rangers to victory over Hamilton Academical on Saturday afternoon at New Douglas Park in Hamilton.
Edu started and went the full distance in the Rangers midfield helping the injury-riddled squad secure another three points.
Fellow American DaMarcus Beasley was once again forced to sit this one out due to a nagging thigh strain which should be healed next week.
The match was the second one between the clubs in the span of a week after the two battled to a 3-3 draw last Sunday in Scottish Cup play thus forcing a replay to take place on Tuesday at Ibrox Stadium.
Head man Walter Smith trotted out a starting 11 that was missing its two primary goal scorers, Kris Boyd to injury and Kenny Miller to suspension.
The prolific offense that the Glasgow club had displayed in December has come back to earth but the confidence within the squad remains in tact as evidenced by the constant pressure they put on the hosts.
Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty started up front and had numerous chances all day long, included a one on one with the goalkeeper, but could never find the final touch.
Novo himself had a chance to put Rangers up before the halftime break but his shot off a cross was scuffed wide.
Meanwhile Edu and the visitors' defense surgically rebuffed any attempt by Hamilton to get on the scoresheet allowing Steven Davis and Stevie Whittaker to push forward.
Finally, 12 minutes from time, John Fleck drilled a shot at goal that was nearly deflected out for a corner kick if not for the effort by the Spanish midfielder who chased down the rebound and then squeezed a shot just inside the post to score the game's only goal.
Novo, who became a father last Saturday, celebrated 'Bebeto-style' and did a rocking motion with his arms much to the delight of the Rangers fans who had made the trip south.
The victory gives Rangers a comfortable nine point cushion over second place Celtic who drew at home with Falkirk.
Edu and the Light Blues return to action once again versus Hamilton in the Scottish Cup replay on Tuesday.