Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SPL Tonight: Dundee United v Rangers

Rangers fit in their first, and only, trundle to Tannadice of this much chopped and changed season just before the SPL-it.

Making hay while the sun shone on Celtic at Hampden, Rangers went top on Saturday with a 2-1 win over St Mirren. They can extend that lead to four points this evening, although Celtic will have two games in hand.

Dundee United, of course, gave this title run in added drama when David Goodwillie's last minute goal gave them a 3-2 win at Ibrox.

That win continued a rich vein of form for United but it was sandwiched between two defeats to Motherwell that provided further confirmation that the SPL's "other" clubs are strangers to sustained consistency this year.

But this is hardly a game that Rangers will relish. That Ibrox defeat has been followed by a 2-0 win at St Johnstone, a 1-0 win at Hamilton and Saturday's 2-1 home win over St Mirren.

At this stage winning is all that matters and a certain trepidation is understandable. But it's not emphatic. And that might lead to more fear tonight, so soon after Dundee United's richly talented attacking players gave Ibrox a potent display of their ability.

A win tonight though means Rangers take an SPL lead into Sunday's Old Firm clash. That could prove priceless.

United too have their motivations this evening. Not only would back to back wins over Rangers prove a notable scalp but it would further strengthen their grip on fourth place.

And fourth place could still carry a European spot. Conversely though that Europa League berth might be dependent on Rangers winning the title.

I suppose we should be grateful that we still have these subplots to mull over at this stage of the season.

I fancy Rangers to get another win here. It might be another tight win though.

And it took only the intervention of the Ibrox crossbar, Goodwillie's composure and United's season long habit of scoring late goals to show that anything can happen in a finely balanced game, in a finely poised title run in.

There might be more gnawed fingernails before tonight is out.

> It's not over 'till it's over: I make it 23 goals that United have scored in the last 15 minutes of games across all competitions this season. Impressive, game changing, point garnering stuff.