Sandaza strike gives Rangers narrow victory at Balmoor

Fran Sandaza's first goal in five months gave Rangers a narrow victory against 10-man Peterhead at Balmoor.

The home side went close early on when a Scott Ross header was well saved low down by Neil Alexander.

Sandaza struck from close-range on the half-hour after Peterhead keeper Graeme Smith spilled Lee Wallace's drive.

Rory McAllister saw red for a second booking in the second half, before David Templeton spurned an excellent chance from Lewis Macleod's set up.

Sandaza's second goal of the season restored Rangers' 19-point lead at the top of the Third Division.

The Spaniard was a prolific goalscorer in the Scottish Premier League with St Johnstone but has found life in the lower league much tougher in an injury-interrupted campaign.

However, he provided the decisive moment in the match against a hard-working and resilient Blue Toon.

Wallace burst forward to hit a shot that former Rangers goalkeeper Smith could only parry and Sandaza pounced to clip home the rebound.

That goal extended Rangers unbeaten run to 14 games, 13 of them victories, and there's no doubt the Ibrox club will comfortably clinch the title.

Just what division they will be playing in next season is still open to debate, though, with doubts over what form league reconstruction will take.

What is certain is that life is far from comfortable for Ally McCoist's side in matches like this as Rangers were given a torrid time against opponents who made up in commitment what they lacked in class.

That was never more evident than in the last 24 minutes after Peterhead had been reduced to 10 men when top scorer Rory McAllister was sent off for a second bookable offence.

The second half had become tousy when McAllister was cautioned for clattering into Wallace and just seven minutes later he walked after picking up another yellow card for controlling the ball with his hand.

Despite that they gave Rangers a few uncomfortable moments near the end before they could secure their latest win.

Tricky little winger David Cox in particular was a bag of tricks but the visitor's back line stood firm and their task could have been made easier had Templeton not had an afternoon to forget in front of goal.

The former Hearts man did make an important goal-line clearance to deny Smith an equaliser in 39 minutes but was not so effective at the other end.

He was twice left with just the goalkeeper to beat late on but failed to hit the target, although not as badly as earlier in the second half.

On that occasion he mis-hit the ball so badly it flew right out of the ground but in the end that one bit of class from Wallace and Sandaza was enough to clinch yet another Rangers win.

Peterhead: Graeme Smith, Scott Ross, Strachan (Sharp 75), Ross Smith, Redman, McCann (Bavidge 57), Cowie (Winters 80), McLaughlin, Noble, McAllister, Cox. Subs Not Used: Jarvie, Maguire.

Sent Off: McAllister (65).

Booked: McCann, McAllister, Strachan, Scott Ross, Ross Smith.

Rangers: Alexander, Hegarty, Perry, Emilson Cribari, Wallace, Macleod, Hutton, Black (Crawford 67), Templeton, Sandaza (McKay 81), Little. Subs Not Used: Gallagher, Shiels, Faure.

Booked: Hutton.

Goals: Sandaza 30.

Att: 4,855

Ref: Mike Tumilty