Football: Hearts aiming to buck Rangers' trend

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The Independent Online
Hearts are aiming to continue their pursuit of Rangers today and victory over in-form Kilmarnock at Rugby Park could put them back on top of the table. The Edinburgh side are currently only one point adrift after beating St Johnstone on Monday.

Rangers, meanwhile, entertain Motherwell today, hoping to pull away at the top of the Premier Division, as they traditionally have a strong second half to the season.

Stevie Fulton, the Hearts midfielder, said: "We are aware that Rangers are usually stronger after the New Year, but I don't think we should be concentrating on that aspect.

"There are 15 games left to play and we need to try and get as many points in the bag as we can. What we have to do is not let teams back into the game as we did against St Johnstone."

Colin Meldrum is likely to take over goalkeeping duties for Kilmarnock following Dragoje Lekovic's move to Sporting Gijon, even if the manager, Bobby Williamson, brings in a new goalkeeper before the game.

It is believed that Williamson's target is Celtic's Gordon Marshall, who is now third in the pecking order at Parkhead behind Jonathan Gould and Stewart Kerr.

Williamson said: "I have two goalkeepers in mind, one who is with a club and one who is not. Even if I do complete a deal before Saturday I will probably still play Colin against Hearts. He has done well for us in the past and even though he is still a young lad he is experienced."

Rangers are heading for a record 10th successive title in the final year at the club of the manager, Walter Smith, but Motherwell go into the match with their confidence restored after taking a point off Celtic in a 1- 1 draw last week. Celtic today face a difficult game at Tannadice against inconsistent Dundee United.

Alex McLeish, the Motherwell manager, is hoping for a repeat performance from striker Owen Coyle, who scored twice in last May's 2-0 win. "Owen is an intelligent player, who has great positional sense. You give him chances and more often than not he will put them away. His goals have been worth their weight in gold to us," he said.

"When we defeated Rangers in May all the talk was about how we had ruined their title hopes. But that wasn't in my thinking. I was more concerned about avoiding the play-offs and victory at Ibrox meant we achieved that."

Falkirk have requested today's First Division match at Raith be postponed after the sudden death of Bob McCallum. The physiotherapist collapsed on Thursday during training and later died.

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