The unhappiest of returns

Scottish Review
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Going back is never easy, as Alex McLeish discovered at Fir Park last night when his old club, Motherwell, and a red card for defender Craig Moore spoiled the new Rangers manager's baptism.

An 80th-minute penalty from a man of many clubs, David Kelly, after Fernando Ricksen handled the ball, gave Motherwell a merited 2-2 draw and leaves Rangers trailing Celtic in the Premier League title race by 13 points.

The young midfielder Keith Lasley had given Motherwell the lead after 15 minutes when he swept in Stuart Elliott's set-up, but Shota Arveladze equalised after 39 minutes when he clipped in Ricksen's cross from a prone position.

Neil McCann then put Rangers in front after 64 minutes, scoring direct from a corner, but after Kelly's seventh goal of the season, Moore was sent off for an ugly tackle on Lasley.

"Drawing games is not going to be good enough for us," McLeish reflected. "The only ones to benefit from that are Celtic."

McLeish's successor at Hibernian, Franck Sauzée, fared even worse on his managerial baptism. The former France player, appointed on Friday, saw his side lose at Dunfermline when Barry Nicholson's fierce 74th-minute shot secured a victory made easier after Paco Luna's dismissal disadvantaged Hibs for more than an hour.

Third-placed Livingston maintained their push for Uefa Cup qualification with a 2-1 win at home to St Johnstone, after the bottom club had gone ahead in the 46th minute when Paul Hartley struck a dipping shot past keeper Nick Culkin from 20 yards. That lead lasted only six minutes when David Fernandez buried a 16-yard shot for the equaliser and then Nathan Lowndes – who left Saints in the summer – sank his former club with a fine strike.

Another player upsetting erstwhile employers was Robbie Winters, whose 62nd-minute penalty secured a 1-1 draw for Aberdeen at Tannadice. Dundee United had gone ahead through Craig Easton's shot on the turn after half an hour.

Hearts also benefited from a penalty in a 2-0 win over Kilmarnock, when Stephen Simmmons slotted one home after eight minutes. Ricard Fuller's pace carved out a fine second after 24 minutes.