Sottish Football: Making light of adversity

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THE improvisational skills of Celtic and Aberdeen were impressively demonstrated as both made light of injury problems to give Rangers an uncomfortable day off.

With Ibrox unplayable due to a burst drain Rangers had time to clear their injury problems before Wednesday's European Champions' League match against CSKA Moscow, but their main rivals were denied such luxury. It seemed that Celtic and Aberdeen would struggle to field a recognisable team between them. Celtic were without a complete back four while the Dons only had Scott Booth available from a forward line which had scored 15 goals in three games.

Undaunted, Celtic moved their full-backs into central defence and pulled Brian O'Neil and John Collins back from midfield to full-back. With the Romanian central defender Rudi Vata operating in midfield it seemed that Liam Brady, the Celtic manager, had drawn the names out of a hat before naming his team, but his front men were impressive enough with three goals to stifle Partick's challenge.

Likewise Aberdeen excelled in the department in which they appeared to be deficient, scoring three without reply against St Johnstone, leaving them three points behind Rangers, whom they meet at Pittodrie on 16 December.

Teeth were bared at the foot of the Premier Division, with only Falkirk of the bottom four taking nothing from their game. Airdrie inflicted upon Hearts a third successive defeat in notching for themselves a first away victory of the season, while Motherwell came back strongly for an important 3-1 win after Tony Parks, the Falkirk goalkeeper, was sent off in 35 minutes with his team leading 1-0.

The irrepressible Simon Stainrod used managerial privilege to bring himself on as a substitute against Hibernian and within four minutes he was claiming Dundee's equaliser after his corner kick beat the defence. The striker Ian Gilzean appeared to put the ball over the line but the manager insisted he had scored his second goal of the season from a corner kick.