Rangers 1-0 Kilmarnock: No Steven Gerrard but David Bates strikes late to seal win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 05/05/18 7:13pm
Rangers capitalised on the Steven Gerrard feel-good factor as they struck late to grab a crucial 1-0 win over Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership.
The former Liverpool and England captain, confirmed as the new Gers boss on Friday after signing a four-year deal, was not in attendance at Ibrox.
But though Steve Clarke's men frustrated Gerrard's new side for long periods, the Ibrox faithful left despondent by last week's 5-0 Old Firm hammering were able to cheer an 85th-minute winner from David Bates.
Rangers, who will be managed by Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson until the end of the season, move to within a point of second-placed rivals Aberdeen, who were held by Hibernian.
Jamie Murphy came close to ratcheting up the noise levels as he was left unmarked just outside Killie's box 11 minutes in, but the winger shot just wide of the target.
But Aaron Tshibola had an opportunity for Killie when Kris Boyd's flick-on from a long Stephen O'Donnell throw dropped for him outside the box - the on-loan Aston Villa youngster instead lashing well off-target.
There was another warning as Eamonn Brophy flashed a ball across goal, a fraction ahead of the on-rushing Boyd.
And it took the quick reactions of Jak Alnwick to keep Killie out just before the half-hour mark as Boyd hit a powerful free-kick, then goalkeeper then foiling Kirk Broadfoot on the rebound.
Gers did finish the half on the charge and only the woodwork denied them the interval lead as Murphy got his head to Andy Halliday's whipped delivery from the left but saw his effort come back off the crossbar.
Nicholl switched Jason Cummings for Ross McCrorie at the change of ends and nearly got an instant reward as the teenager almost found the top corner within seconds of play resuming, before pushing another effort just wide soon after.
It looked like the hosts would have to settle for a point but with just five minutes remaining man-of-the-match Bates - making his return after six weeks out injured - bundled home Sean Goss' deep cross to seal victory.
The visitors could have snatched something at the end but Greg Kiltie's header flew just over.