Bartley keeps Rangers in striking range of leaders

St Mirren 0 Rangers 1
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The Independent Football

Rangers reduced the gap behind Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic to five points yesterday after Walter Smith's side recorded a narrow victory at St Mirren Park. Kyle Bartley scored in the first half to settle matters, his first goal since arriving on loan from Arsenal.

Rangers midfielder Steven Davis had a set-piece brilliantly saved by Paul Gallacher, while Kenny McLean volleyed over for St Mirren after a good cross from David van Zanten.

The goal arrived in the 24th minute, as Madjid Bougherra lost his markers and sent a dinked cross over three defenders for Bartley to head home as the home side lost concentration.

Davis struck a 25-yard shot over the bar in the second half. St Mirren midfielder Jim Goodwin went close with a long shot and team-mate Van Zanten put an effort wide late on as his side were consigned to defeat. Rangers, who lost to their Old Firm rivals in the Cup on Wednesday, have two games in hand over Celtic.

Kris Commons spoke of his delight at regularly finding the net this season after his two goals helped Celtic defeat Hamilton 2-0 on Saturday. "I've always been a goal threat, but never classed as a goalscorer," said Commons, who joined Celtic from Derby in January and whose tally now stands at 18 for the campaign. "If I can reach 20 goals that would be fantastic."

The Kilmarnock manager, Mixu Paatelainen, was bemused at seeing Alexei Eremenko receive a red card after the midfielder had scored in Killie's 2-0 victory over Hearts. Sixteen minutes after putting Kilmarnock two- up, Eremenko clashed with Hearts' Marius Zaliukas and David Templeton and was sent off. "Who is actually the offender there? I thought it was the other way around," said Paatelainen.