Handy Hill breaks deadlock for Rangers
CLINT Hill scored once and set up the other as Rangers saw off Ipswich on Tuesday to maintain their charge towards the Premier League.
The left-back bundled in the opening goal just 14 minutes from time and then delivered the cross for Heidar Helguson to head his second goal in three days and wrap up the win.
The match was virtually a rerun of the Rs’ recent victory against Portsmouth – in which Hill also scored – as they emerged with the three points despite struggling to get on top for long periods.
Manager Neil Warnock opted for sweeping changes at the back, bringing in Dan Shittu for his first appearance since rejoining the club, while Fitz Hall partnered him in central defence.
Hall settled down after a couple of early errors, while Shittu marked his return with a powerful challenge to halt Connor Wickham’s charge down the right and later superbly deflected Chris Leadbitter’s effort over the bar.
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At the other end, Shittu’s header was smothered in a tangle of bodies and, from a corner, Adel Taarabt set up Hall for a pop at goal that was foiled by former Rangers defender Damien Delaney.
Rangers started the second half in positive mood as Wayne Routledge got away on the left and cut the ball back for Ishmael Miller, whose finish was blocked on the line. Helguson then went close with a stooping header that arrowed across and over the face of goal and it seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken.
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It needed a perfectly-timed tackle from Town skipper Gareth McAuley to force Shittu’s attempt behind and, from the corner, Marton Fulop was at full stretch to collect Miller’s header.
Ipswich continued to threaten as well, though, and Lee Martin forced a low save from Paddy Kenny.
Taarabt had done little all night, but was handed an opportunity to resume his role as hero with 15 minutes remaining when Alejandro Faurlin set him up, but he swept the chance straight at Fulop.
It was Hill, though, who was cast as Rangers’ saviour this time, pouncing from close range when Town failed to clear Taarabt’s corner.
And the points were safe seven minutes later as Helguson met Hill’s cross at the far post with a header that Fulop could not keep out. Top flight football is surely beckoning…