Prunty pops up to rattle Rangers

Rangers 1 - Inverness CT 1
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The Independent Online

Time caught up with Rangers yesterday as their clock-watching saw them involved in their second dramatic finale in three days. This time, though, the boot was on the other foot as Bryan Prunty dented their Scottish Premier League title push.

Time caught up with Rangers yesterday as their clock-watching saw them involved in their second dramatic finale in three days. This time, though, the boot was on the other foot as Bryan Prunty dented their Scottish Premier League title push.

The elation of Tynecastle, where Rangers profited from a late refereeing error, was replaced by frustration as Ibrox was stunned by the Inverness substitute's equal-iser in the second minute of added time. Rangers now hold a seven-point lead over Celtic, but their rivals have three games in hand.

Whether it was a reaction to their midweek encounter with Hearts, or merely a sense of wariness following the Edinburgh side's appeal for the game to be replayed after the controversial injury-time penalty that supplied Rangers' winner, Alex McLeish's side were decidedly muted.

Inverness have long since cast off the label of relegation favourites, and since Craig Brewster took over as player-manager in November, they have become genuine equals in SPL contests. Brewster left himself on the bench, perhaps preferring to direct the traffic as much as leave the task of working the Rangers defence to the young legs of Graham Bayne and Juanjo.

Indeed, it was the latter who had the best chance of the first half. A fine Inverness move saw 20 passes put together before Stuart Golabek's shot was blocked. Juanjo seized on the loose ball before clipping a shot over Ronald Waterreus that bounced just wide.

Rangers had the bulk of the pressure, but did nothing with it. Caledonian Thistle's organ-isation limited them to few glimpses of goal.

Nacho Novo was denied by Mark Brown's vigilance and then the striker ought to have found the net a few minutes later after the goalkeeper was bundled into by Thomas Buffel and spilled the ball, but Novo fired over from 16 yards.

When Novo dragged a shot wide from a good position 10 minutes into the second half, it seemed to sum up their day. However, just two minutes later, they made the break-through when Inverness's defensive excellence deserted them momentarily.

They tried to push up too quickly and were pierced by Fernando Ricksen's ball over the top. Barry Ferguson burst into the space before measuring up a sublime lob over Brown from 12 yards.

The roars around Ibrox were of relief. Yet Inverness refused to lose belief, with Bajram Fetai - on loan from Rangers - almost scoring against his employers in a furious 82nd-minute scramble.

Brown, who also cut his teeth at Ibrox, defied his former club by touching Novo's shot wide four minutes from time.

Brewster frantically waved every player forward in the last few seconds of stoppage time, and the gamble paid off when Golabek's ball into the box bounced off Gregory Vignal into the path of Prunty, who rifled home the equaliser.

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