Nine Man Rangers Win Co-Operative Insurance Cup Final
A late Kenny Miller header handed SPL league leaders Rangers the Co-operative Insurance Cup after defeating St. Mirren, despite two of their players being sent off in the second half.
St. Mirren, second bottom in the league, dominated the game even when Rangers had 11 men, creating far more chances than the favorites.
The Buddies started well, as Billy Mehmet went close after dispossessing David Weir, and Jack Ross tackled Rangers' goalkeeper Neil Alexander inside the six-yard box, but the ball went out for a corner.
Minutes later the keeper was forced into a terrific goal-line save from Steven Thomson and the Buddies' fans could sense they could win what was their first final appearance in 23 years.
Again, just a moment later the Paisley side nearly scored when centre-half David Barron hit the crossbar from long range.
Rangers came out after halftime with a change in personnel and formation, but St. Mirren continued to dominate with Mehmet shooting straight at Alexander inside the box.
Things then got worse for Rangers eight minutes into the second half when referee Craig Thomson showed midfielder Kevin Thomson a straight red. A few hard tackles went in and Thomson seemed to be upended off-the-ball by his namesake Steven. The Rangers player then looked for revenge and caught the man late, subsequently seeing red.
20 minutes later St. Mirren substitute Craig Dargo made an instant impact when he was apparently tugged by 'Gers defender Danny Wilson outside the box, an incident similar to the penalties given in Man United and Arsenal's respective games.
The referee obviously thought the 18 year-old was the last man and showed him a straight red card. It seemed harsh, as his teammate David Weir wasn't far away and also Dargo didn't seem to have the ball under control.
However, the Buddies failed to make their numerical advantage count as Rangers dug deep, and a counter-attacking move in the 84th minute by the Scottish champions made them pay.
Substitute Steven Naismith picked up the ball on the half-way line and found Kenny Miller with a pinpoint cross and the striker found the back of the net with a fine header.
It was a goal worthy of any cup final, even if the victory wasn't deserved.
St. Mirren looked shell-shocked and Rangers held on for a famous victory, showing the sort of character a side needs to win the domestic treble.
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