Dunfermline 1 Rangers 1: Rangers waste big chance as Pars make point at last

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The Independent Online

Rangers squandered an opportunity to go top of the Scottish Premier League when they were held by Dunfermline yesterday.

Thomas Buffel found the back of the net after a couple of weeks of frustration in front of goal - but his strike was cancelled out by the substitute Owen Morrison for Dunfermline's first point of the season.

Their manager, Jim Leishman, had selection problems ahead of the game with several first-team players out of action through injury, meaning that the centre-half Andy Tod had to be deployed as a striker for the day. Yet it was Rangers, who have an embarrassment of riches in that area, who lacked ideas in front of goal.

Paul Le Guen opted to keep faith with the same 11 players for the third consecutive week, and Buffel looked the most dangerous individual. But he was frustrated in the opening minutes, stabbing wide from six yards before seeing a shot blocked by Roddy McKenzie. The Pars were let off the hook again when Phil McGuire's attempts to clear saw the ball cannon off Libor Sionko and slide inches wide of the target.

After the break, a Charlie Adam corner fell all the way to Buffel at the back post and he played the ball out to Sionko for the shot - but it was blasted over the crossbar.

Rangers finally took the lead after 63 minutes. Buffel shrugged off a challenge from Scott Wilson to collect a Jérémy Clément pass before steering a shot past McKenzie.

Dunfermline were back on level terms within six minutes. Lionel Letizi fumbled a Stephen Simmons ball into the box and even though Morrison's initial effort smashed into a wall of blue jerseys, he managed to squeeze home the rebound.

Rangers responded by bringing on their new signing Lee Martin - on loan from Manchester United - at the expense of Adam. But last year's top goalscorer, Kris Boyd, went closest in the closing minutes, only to look on in disbelief as McKenzie threw himself in front of the ball.

Goals: Buffel (63) 0-1; Morrison (66) 1-1.

Dunfermline Athletic (4-4-2): McKenzie, McCunnie, Bamba, Scott Wilson, Simmons, Mason, McGuire, Woods (Craig Wilson, 90), Muirhead (Ross, 57), Tod, Burchill (Morrison, 66). Substitutes not used: De Vries (gk), Campbell, Phinn, Smith.

Rangers (4-4-2): Letizi; Hutton, Rodriguez, Svensson, Smith; Sionko (Burke, 59), Hemdani, Clement, Buffel; Prso (Kris Boyd, 59), Adam (Martin, 71). Substitutes not used: MacGregor (gk), Rae, Sebo, Pierre-Fanfan.

Referee: C Richmond (Scotland).

Booked: Dunfermline: Simmons, Woods.

Man of the match: McKenzie.

Attendance: 8,561.