RANGERS drew 1-1 with Livingston as they jumped one point ahead of Hibernian into second place.
The draw means Stuart McCall’s side still stay in control of their own destiny in The Championship table.
In a feisty encounter the goals came within seconds of the second-half starting and within minutes of each other – Myles Hippolyte opening the scoring in the 46th minute before Marius Zaliukas cancelled his effort out in the 48th.
Six minutes were gone when the game sprung into controversial life and Livi had the ball in the back of the net. Jason Talbot hooked a ball into the Rangers area and Cammy Bell looked to have the attack dealt with when he jumped for it. But as he hurried to the floor he spilt the ball under pressure and Hippolyte tapped home into an open goal. But the linesman’s flag shot up and referee Greg Aitken was quick to give a free kick for a tackle on the keeper, bringing the home side’s celebrations to a swift halt.
The excitement in the opening exchanges was to be short lived and certainly not an indicator of how the first-half would take shape. Both sides were struggling to either settle into the game or sculpt a clear cut chance. On 18 minutes Haris Vuckic scampered down the right to cut a stinging ball into the six-yard box and onto the head of Nicky Clark. The forward couldn’t repeat his nod against Raith though and put the ball wide.
And then Vuckic tried to produce his eighth goal of the season in a solo effort when he darted into the D and curled a shot straight at Darren Jamieson. But in truth Rangers were failing to impose themselves on the games as half an hour ticked by.
Five minutes before the break McCall’s side had their best chance of the first 45 minutes to get ahead. Nicky Law fizzed a corner in from the left which fell clear of the main pack and was picked up by Kenny Miller. The striker had spun away from the crowds to find himself in space but his laces effort would only fly over the crossbar.
As the second-half opened it was to prove second time lucky for Hippolyte, after his opener had been chalked off. Livingston won a free-kick on the edge of the area and the 20-year-old stood over it with confidence before curling a shot beyond Bell and into the top corner of his goal.
But Rangers responded immediately as Vuckic whipped a free-kick in from the right and onto the head of Zaliukas. The defender nodded the ball backwards; before it took one bounce to send it beyond Jamieson at his near post. With 48 minutes gone it felt as though the game had eventually begun
And then moments later McGregor went close to putting Gers ahead. The full-back marauding forward on the right and smashing a shot straight at the keeper, from close range, who had to be strong to parry.
The Light Blues were pouring forward and nearly profited from a Law corner when Miller cut the ball back to Vuckic on 55 minutes. The goal hungry Slovenian could only find the inside of the post with his strike though and the Lions cleared their lines.
Livi were on the lookout for a goal too as they put a wave of pressure together and it nearly came off in the 70th minute. They had a penalty shout waved away before Scott Pittman nodded a low header through a crowd in the six-yard box to almost deceive Bell.
McCall rung the changes as Gers went in desperate search of a winner, Miller and Clark made way for the fresh legs and heads of Ryan Hardie and Kris Boyd up top. But the changes, along with the arrival of Tom Walsh couldn’t impact the game enough and Gers could only take a point away from Almondvale.
RANGERS: Bell, McGregor, McCulloch, Zaliukas, Wallace, Murdoch, Law, Shiels (Walsh 80”), Vuckic, Miller (Boyd 73”), Clark (Hardie 73”)
Subs not used: Robinson, Mohsni, Black, Crawford
Goals: Zaliukas 48”
Yellows: Vuckic 89”
LIVINGSTON: Jamieson, Talbot, Cole, Fordyce, Ky.Jacobs, Ke.Jacobs, O’Brien, Hippolyte (Glen 81”), Gallacher, White (Boulding 88”), Pittman (Mullen 85”)
Subs not used: Walker, Beaumont, Sekajja, Donaldson
Goals: Hippolyte 46”
Yellows: Ke.Jacobs 83”