Peterhead put up a fight against Gers

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Rangers maintained their healthy lead at the top of Division Three with a single, first half goal proving enough to take the points at a chilly Balmoor on Sunday.

Peterhead performed well but failure to take the chances they carved out and the loss of striker Rory McAllister with 25 minutes of the match remaining were to prove their downfall.

The sending off of McAllister particularly riled manager Jim McInally who preferred not to comment on the decision by referee Mike Tumilty to show him his second yellow card for what was deemed a deliberate hand ball.

The visitors did enough to earn their victory but it was a far from impressive performance. Their team largely comprised of youngsters but too few chances were created and those that were, with one exception, went high or wide.

For all their talk of re-joining the top table of Scottish football, they are still very much work in progress.

The Blue Toon started the game in front of a bumper 4,855-strong crowd by taking the initiative and the cat could have been set amongst the pigeons as early as the 6 th minute.

A superbly delivered free kick by Ryan Strachan from midway inside the visitors half found the head of Scott Ross and his flick saw Neil Alexander dive sharply to his left to gather the ball low down.

The Gers struggled to get hold of and keep the ball as their hosts dictated the play early on and speculative efforts by Ian Black then David Templeton were the best they could muster as the half hour approached.

Home keeper Graeme Smith had shown his bravery diving in to end potential danger on a couple of occasions but talk of what a superb acquisition he has been tempted fate.

A shot from 20 yards by Lee Wallace was well struck but should have posed no significant danger but Smith failed to hold the ball and worse still could only push it straight out and into the path of Francisco Sandaza who netted what was to prove the winner.

Back came Peterhead and in the 37th minute McAllister shielded the ball inside the penalty area before laying it off to David Cox who should have hit the target but wastefully shot wide.

Two minutes later a Cox corner from the left found Ross Smith at the back post but his diving header was blocked on the goal line.

The Blue Toon took the game to Rangers at the start of the second half as they had in the first but it was the visitors who went close with a Lewis McLeod free kick being headed wide by full back Chris Hegarty.

Trailing by just a single goal, an equaliser was a possibility but any chance of that went out the window after 65 minutes. A through ball was heading towards the left of goal with McAllister in pursuit. As it ran beyond him he handled the ball which either was, or was perceived to be, deliberate and a second yellow was brandished. Stupidity by McAllister or a harsh decision by the referee?

Either way Peterhead’s task became a whole lot tougher.

Despite some late pressure by the ten men it was Rangers who created the chances to add to their lead but some woeful finishing gave a fairer reflection to the score line for the effort the Blue Toon put in against their once illustrious opponents.

PETERHEAD: G. Smith, Cowie, (Winters 80), Noble, Ross, Smith, Strachan (Sharp 75), Cox, Redman, McAllister, McLaughlin, McCann (Bavidge 86). Subs no used: Jarvie, McGuire

Attendance – 4,855