MYLES HIPPOLYTE’S 51st minute strike secured a valuable point for Livingston as Rangers were left to rue missed chances at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Jason Holt put the Light Blues in front midway through the first half with a well-taken finish, and at this stage the signs were good that they could build on their lead and secure all three points.
Livi had other ideas and in the second period Mark Burchill’s side produced a spirited defensive display to frustrate their opponents and deny them a second goal.
The result means Rangers are now level on 37 points with second place Hibernian but with a game in-hand.
On a bitterly cold afternoon both sets of fans stood to observe a minute of silence after the recent terrorist attacks on Paris.
When the action got started Rangers tried to settle into their now familiar style of play with the midfield trio of Gedion Zelalem, Andy Halliday and Jason Holt retaining possession confidently.
Livingston, however, had the first goalscoring opportunity with just five minutes on the clock. Jordan White controlled the ball well just inside Rangers’ half and he was able stride forward 20 yards before striking a low shot across Wes Foderingham which the keeper did well to palm away.
While Rangers were tidy and composed on the ball they were up against a well-organised Livi side who were working hard to retain their shape and limit the number of shots on Marc McCallum’s goal.
But on 22 minutes they were unable to stop the visitor’s open the scoring with Holt netting his fifth goal of the season. Barrie McKay played a pass for Waghorn in the box but Livi’s Declan Gallagher diverted it into the path of Holt who coolly passed it beyond McCallum with his left foot.
It was a fine finish from the Gers star who is now a key player in Mark Warburton’s starting eleven with his pace, energy and ability to drive forward into the last third of the pitch.
Rangers looked to double their advantage quickly and McKay came so close to doing just that when he curled a superb shot from 20 yards which clattered the post.
The winger was then involved again when he linked superbly with Lee Wallace before playing in Martyn Waghorn who blasted a left foot shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
This trio were at it again in the next attack, with McKay clipping a clever pass over a Livi player to the marauding Wallace who lobbed a cross to Waghorn in the box. The South Shields striker took a touch but had to wait for the ball to drop meaning he couldn’t get the purchase required to really test McCallum.
Before the break Livi should have been back on level terms when a long throw-in was flicked on but White, who was unmarked, couldn’t get the power or accuracy in his header to beat a relieved Foderingham.
Into the second half the Gers’ keeper was not so fortuitous as Hippolyte levelled six minutes in.
The ball came back to the number eleven after a shot had been blocked and from 20 yards he unleashed an accurate left-foot drive which found the bottom corner with Foderingham diving helplessly to his left.
The league leaders had it all to do again and Warburton quickly made his first substitution with Kenny Miller replacing Nathan Oduwa.
Rangers now had to shift through the gears quickly and on the hour mark former Livi player Andy Halliday brought out a good save from McCallum after trying his luck from 25 yards.
With frustration started to build in three of the four stands decked in red, white and blue, Rangers continued to push forward and McCallum was at his best to deny Miller who struck first time from McKay’s cross.
McKay was then guilty of missing the ball entirely from Miller’s back post delivery which left many fans wondering if this was going to be Rangers’ day.
Despite a late surge Warburton’s men were unable to produce a killer pass or moment of real quality to beat McCallum and credit has to go to Livi’s backline for the graft they put in in the latter stages of this contest.
At referee George Salmond’s final whistle the Gers stars could not hide their disappointment as they trudged towards the tunnel but on this occasion, they had to settle for a point.