Scottish Football: Payton finds a place

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IN RESCUING some pride for themselves with a draw at Pittodrie, following last week's Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Falkirk, Celtic also ensured that Rangers retained their nine-point advantage over Aberdeen. Both sides of the Glasgow divide thus had something to celebrate on Liam Brady's 37th birthday.

With his side trailing to a Mixu Paatelainen goal, Brady, the Celtic manager, replaced Stuart Slater with Andy Payton. Within four minutes, the former Middlesbrough striker headed an equaliser, from a Tommy Boyd cross.

The significance of the goal emerged with the news that Rangers had dropped an unexpected point at home to Airdrie, the bottom club in the Premier Division, with Ally McCoist and Owen Coyle scoring two goals apiece.

Paddy Connolly, the Dundee United striker, was another player to score twice - against Partick Thistle at Firhill - although he was denied a hat-trick by the referee, Les Mottram, who refused to award a goal after a Connolly header hit the stanchion and came back out. United were nevertheless too strong for Thistle, winning 4-0 - with a goal from Duncan Ferguson, who is now back in favour with the management.

The 17-year-old Hearts striker, Kevin Thomas, scored on his debut against Falkirk - just four minutes after entering the fray as a substitute - which helped the Edinburgh side to a 3-1 win. Simon Stainrod, Dundee's player- manager, returned from a four- match absence to score the only goal against St Johnstone.

Dumbarton and Kilmarnock had to face a 40-minute delay when fire broke out in the Boghead boardroom before their First Division match. When play was possible, Killie's promotion hopes were damaged in a 1-0 defeat. Raith Rovers, the leaders, and Dunfermline both won, with the latter now occupying the second promotion place.

Scott Howie, Clyde's highly-rated goalkeeper, faces a busy day tomorrow - he is due to play for both club and country in the space of six hours. He will make his debut for Scotland's Under-21 side against Malta at Tannadice Park, Dundee, at 1.30pm, and will then hurry to Douglas Park, Hamilton, to turn out for Clyde against Queen of the South in a League game.