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37y, 4m, 10d born in Scotland man-murdo-macleod.jpg Murdo MacLeod Manager(s) Walter Smith
The Little Report This was a game that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, which is a pity because Thistle played well and might have achieved something had events not unfolded the way they did. Heavily sanded and watered, the pitch was clearly suffering from over use (ground-sharing with Hamilton). An early Thistle corner came to nothing and soon Rangers had Thistle on the back foot. They survived a clear penalty claim when Laudrup was sandwiched in the box but the referee decided it was a only a corner which Petric headed high over the bar. A lucky escape. Van Vossen (who looked out of sorts and out of place) was booked for an elbow on Dinnie as they went for a high clearance in the centre circle. Thistle won another corner but, again, they made nothing of it. Rangers broke and Gascoigne kicked out at MacDonald as they made progress up field. Next, MacDonald was lucky not to find himself booked after a foul on Laudrup. A low free-kick was fired across and Gascoigne around the penalty spot fired a shot which came off Walker's right hand post and was saved. After a surging run by Gascoigne, a corner by Rangers was partially cleared but it was swung back in and Miller's header was comfortably saved by Walker. When MacDonald was pressurised into giving the ball away in the middle of the park, GASCOIGNE drove forward and taking a quick one-two with Miller, ran in and took the ball round Walker for the opening goal (27). He jumped the advertising boards to celebrate and was promptly booked for leaving the field without permission. 8 minutes later a corner by Cameron was sent across and a glancing header by a defender set up McDONALD for a volley from 8 yards on the angle at the far post. 1-1 (35). The lead didn't last long. Rangers took a short corner and the ball was passed to GASCOIGNE at the edge of the box. One step-over past a defender and the ball was soon high in Walker's top right-hand corner with the keeper helpless (36). Thistle paid the price for not closing down Gascoigne quickly enough. They responded with a header from McDonald after McLaren had missed a cross but it was well saved, Gorham diving to his right, low down. H-T 1-2. Laudrup left a couple of defenders in his wake with a fine run into the box his cross was just too high for anyone at the back post. Next, Thistle made progress with a fine move down the left by Foster. His short pass inside to McWilliams was hit first time from 6 yards but Gorham dived to make a fine save. The running feud between Gascoigne and MacDonald continued and they tangled in midfield. A driving run by Laudrup set up Van Vossen but he slipped at the vital moment, couldn't get his shot away and Thistle cleared up field. Rangers soon had Thistle on the defensive again. McDonald slid in to tackle Brown but he saw it coming. No contact was made but the intent was clear and a yellow card seemed inevitable. Unbelievably, the referee sent off McDonald leaving the 10 men with an uphill task (57). Unknown at the time (but explained after the game) McDonald had crossed himself either when he scored or when he walked off at half-time. This had been reported to the police by Rangers fans but they had taken no further action. Unfortunately for Thistle, the referee did and in his opinion it was an inflammatory gesture. He booked McDonald at half-time (although it was unclear if McDonald or the manager realised this at the time). His foul on Brown was therefore his second bookable offence. Rangers enjoyed almost all the possession and pressure after that but spirited defending kept them at bay and Thistle did manage one more good chance when a Cameron free-kick was sent in, the ball spun up and Welsh headed over the bar from close range. Next, Rangers had claims for a penalty when Walker looked to have pulled down Miller in a race for a through ball but TV replays showed clearly he had got the ball first. MacDonald and Gascoigne clashed in midfield and landed in a heap, all arms and legs. Either or both could have been sent off there and then. The referee may have realised that he had already booked Gascoigne and that another yellow would have meant sending him off. A fine effort from outside the box by MacDonald resulted in Gorham glad to see the ball going just wide. There was just time for more controversy when MacDonald took an elbow from Gascoigne during one of his surging runs. The move broke down but the ball was played back in to Gascoigne. MacDonald, red mist descending no doubt, had a swipe at Gascoigne (who managed to evade contact and nutmeg MacDonald at the same time). MacDonald was duly sent off (89) but by then the game was lost. Rangers went on to win the championship by 4 points from Celtic but had Thistle managed to keep 11 men on the park it might have been a tighter margin. A sense of injustice was undoubtedly a mitigating factor. Gascoigne (who had already been booked) could easily have been booked again as he jostled and elbowed his way out of trouble, arms flailing a number of times. Perhaps the referee didn't consider his simulated flute playing to be inflammatory. Thistle defended McDonald by saying he regularly crossed himself - even in reserve matches. If the offence was inflammatory and committed when he scored, why was he not booked at the time, ie, 10 minutes before h-t? He earned a reprieve for his “offence” when the SFA delayed a final decision on what should happen to him. (He was eventually given a 3-game ban.) Worse news followed for Thistle however when it emerged that Pitman had been red-carded 3 times for foul and abusive language while confronting the referee after the game. (He wasn't even a substitute for the match.) He received an 8-match ban - and no doubt a hefty fine by the club. Even worse news followed when the referee (Mr McGilvray) later admitted in the press that he had not applied the rules fairly and that he had not sent Gascoigne off because he feared it would cause crowd trouble.

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