Signs of spreading tension at the top

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The Independent Online
There are signs with 10 games remaining that something will give in the tense Old Firm battle for the title. Celtic's draw with relegation battlers Falkirk, allowed Rangers to extend their lead at the top to three points and while the meeting of the big two at Ibrox on 17 March is being seen as a title decider, the evidence of Saturday suggested the drama will not be confined to that one game.

After taking an early lead against Motherwell, the bottom club, Rangers lost their way for periods of the game and had to rely on Mr Dependable, Ally McCoist, for the winning goal albeit from the penalty spot. In winning the penalty for Rangers, Paul Gascoigne earned a booking for allowing his display of joy to stretch to gestures to Chris McCart, the Motherwell defender who had brought him down.

Afterwards Alan McLaren, who had scored Rangers second goal, admitted: "You feel the tension out in the park in every game."

Celtic suffered agonies at Brockville when they were held to a goalless draw by Falkirk and so incensed were they by the refusal of Andrew Waddell, the referee, to award them a penalty, that Tommy Burns, the Celtic manager, refused to allow his players to speak to the press.

The manager himself said enough for them, commenting: "It was similar to a game at Kilmarnock when we had a stonewall penalty turned down. The referee from that game later admitted he was wrong and today was very similar."

Jim Jefferies, the Hearts manager, will today study television evidence before deciding whether to discipline Pasquale Bruno, his Italian defender, following his red card against Aberdeen. Bruno appeared to lash out with his arm, catching Dean Windass, the former Hull City midfielder in the face. However, Jefferies said: "Bruno says he didn't catch him. But if television evidence proves it was deliberate, then he'll be fined under the club's disciplinary code."

Without Bruno Hearts slumped to a 3-1 defeat with the Aberdeen strike force of Windass and Duncan Shearer scoring two of their goals.

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