London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 07 May 2005 Rangers 2 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sporting Life ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth None auth-> Charlie Richmond
[T Buffel 9] ;[M Andrews 42]
15 of 019 Marvin Anthony Andrews og 84 L SPL A

Rangers 2 Hearts 1

Rangers moved back to the top of the Bank of Scotland Premier League thanks to a nerve-jangling 2-1 win over Hearts at Ibrox.

The victory, courtesy of goals from Thomas Buffel and Marvin Andrews, put them a point ahead of Celtic and left their supporters hoping for a further twist in an unexpectedly enthralling finish to the season when the Hoops entertain Aberdeen on Sunday.

But those fans had certainly not enjoyed a fraught final 10 minutes that saw Andrews put through his own goal and Hearts launch attack after attack in search of a campaign-killing equaliser.

There had been no shortage of pre-match talking points either, with Hearts head coach John Robertson top of the agenda following last night's board meeting that shed little light on whether his departure is imminent.

It was also the first time the two sides had met since Rangers had won 2-1 at Tynecastle in March thanks to a last-minute penalty.

That had been awarded on the advice of linesman Andy Davis and prompted a witch hunt against the official which was resurrected this week when Celtic criticised his appointment to the Tennent's Scottish Cup final.

Rangers manager Alex McLeish swapped the fit-again Gregory Vignal for Maurice Ross at left back in the only change from the side that had won 3-1 at Aberdeen last week to cut Celtic's lead at the top to two points before today.

Robertson, once the team bus had arrived at Ibrox having been delayed by traffic until 45 minutes before kick-off opted for a starting line-up that included Saulius Mikoliunas, the Lithuanian who had been sent off for barging into Davis in the chaos that followed the penalty award.

The home side dominated the first half and took the lead within eight minutes through Buffel.

Nacho Novo deserved the plaudits however as he had created the goal with a superb solo run on receiving a pass from Dado Prso that saw him motor past first Steven Pressley and then Robbie Neilson.

Novo also beat the advancing goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, with a lofted effort but saw Andy Webster block on the line. The ball looped up perfectly for the Belgian, however, and he nodded home from close range.

Gordon was able to make a smart one-handed stop to deny Prso after Novo had set him up and Buffel, who had been intent on reaching the rebound first, claimed in vain for a penalty as Lee Wallace challenged.

Within seconds Buffel's latest appeal went unheeded by referee Charlie Richmond, who awarded a goal-kick after Andrews had fluffed a seemingly unmissable chance.

Hearts had been caught out from a Vignal corner that saw Prso divert the ball perfectly for the big defender, who continues to defy the medics who insist on a knee operation.

Andrews produced a defender's finish by scuffing the ball wide but made amends two minutes before the break when he diverted a Buffel shot from outside the box, which was heading wide, high past Gordon, after Pressley had only half cleared a Novo header at the back post.

Hearts had offered little except for two nervous moments for the home support from free-kicks. Paul Hartley took them both and on each occasion fired a low drive past the wall. Ronald Waterreus did well to scramble the first round his left-hand post but was able to make a more comfortable stop from the second.

Hearts, who had seen Wallace booked in the 31st minute for upending Novo, swapped Lee Miller for Dennis Wyness up front at the break.

Rangers were content for the status quo to continue however and Hearts lacked the guile to put them under any serious pressure.

The anonymous Peter Lovenkrands was replaced by Shota Arveladze on the hour mark at a time when Hartley was receiving treatment after being clattered by Novo.

Buffel sent a a drive crashing down off the crossbar after Arveladze had teed him up and, after Vignal was booked for a foul, Hearts sent Mark Burchill on in place of Joe Hamill.

Hearts were reduced to desperate measures now and the home fans howled when Mikoliunas went down in the box in search of a penalty.

Referee Richmond allowed play to continue but then booked the Lithuanian for gesturing to the crowd. He was replaced by Stephen Simmons when Rangers swapped Prso for Steven Thompson with 15 minutes remaining.

Vignal made a crucial intervention in the 76th minute when Hartley looked odds on to convert his side's best chance of the afternoon. The Scotland international pulled the trigger from eight yards out but saw the Frenchman divert it away at the last moment.

But then Hearts were gifted a lifeline in the 82nd minute when Andrews comically sent a Stewart free-kick past his own goalkeeper with no challenger near him.

Thompson then proceeded to ping a drive off the bar at the other end to make sure it was an unnecessarily nervous ending to the match for the home side.

Simmons fired narrowly over as Hearts pressed for an equaliser that would have been undeserved but underlined the nervous nature of a season that is destined to go right to the wire for the second time in three years.


Rangers Waterreus, Ricksen, Andrews, Kyrgiakos, Vignal, Buffel (Burke 80), Alex Rae, Ferguson, Lovenkrands (Arveladze 59), Novo, Prso (Thompson 73).

Subs Not Used: McGregor, Malcolm, Steven Smith, McCormack.

Booked: Vignal.

Goals: Buffel 9, Andrews 42.

Hearts Gordon, Neilson, Pressley, Webster, Wallace, Stewart, Hartley, MacFarlane, Mikoliunas (Simmons 74), Hamill (Burchill 67), Miller (Wyness 45).

Subs Not Used: Moilanen, Tierney, Sives, Pelosi.

Booked: Wallace, Mikoliunas.

Goals: Andrews 84 og.

Att: 49,342

Ref: C Richmond (Scotland).

Taken from

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