Football: Goram points Rangers to title

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The Independent Online
Aberdeen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

Rangers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

A SPLENDID goalkeeping display by Andy Goram paved the way for Rangers' most important win of the season, and if the destination of the Premier Division flag was not decided by this result, few would now bet against the Glasgow club securing a fifth successive championship.

They lead Aberdeen by seven points with a game fewer played, after blunting the Dons' strike- force and plundering the points with a Mark Hateley goal in 69 minutes.

Overall, this long-awaited meeting of Scotland's form teams proved a disappointment for the capacity crowd of 15,600 with little of the quality both sets of supporters have come to expect, although there were enough flashes of excellence to hold their attention.

Aberdeen, already trailing in the title race, had little option but to try to win the game, and although it took some 20 minutes for a clear pattern to emerge, the home side became the dominant force thereafter and were denied an interval lead by the superb Goram.

The keeper came to Rangers' rescue as early as the third minute, pushing wide a powerful angled shot from Mixu Paatelainen, and he later responded magnificently to scoop away a Paatelainen header which seemed destined for the bottom corner. He kept his best until the end of the first half, however, and just seconds before the interval he reacted quickly to parry a powerful Eoin Jess volley. In the dying seconds of the game he again denied Jess with an impressive stop.

Earlier, Stephen Wright, the Aberdeen full-back, shot over and Scott Booth sent a flashing header wide of the post as the Dons sought a reward for their superiority.

Rangers' attack was seen only in flashes and despite the midfield prompting of Trevor Steven, the partnership of Hateley and Ally McCoist, who have scored 55 goals between them this season, was well marshalled by the Aberdeen defence.

At the other end, Rangers survived strong penalty claims when John Brown appeared to foul Paul Mason but the referee, Hugh Williamson, was unimpressed.

Aberdeen: Snelders; Wright, Smith, Grant, Irvine, McLeish, Richardson (Kane, 71), Booth, Jess, Paatelainen, Mason (Shearer, 79).

Rangers: Goram; Stevens, D Robertson, Gordon, McPherson, Brown, Steven, McCall, McCoist, Hateley, Mikhailichenko. Substitutes not used: Nisbet, Huistra.

Referee: H Williamson (Renfrew).