Rangers’ away record ends at Killie
Rangers saw their impressive away record come to an end after suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Kilmarnock in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Ally McCoist’s men were aiming for their 15th consecutive league win on the road but Manuel Pascali grabbed the only goal late on to ensure the three points remained at Rugby Park.
The Light Blues’ last visit to the Ayrshire venue saw them claim the SPL crown with a commanding 5-1 win on the last day of last season but this result means they remain just four points ahead of Celtic in the title race.
Sone Aluko made his Rangers debut from the start after completing his move to the Ibrox club earlier in the week.
The former Aberdeen winger had been without a club since his Dons contract expired in the summer but, despite the lack of competitive matches since then, he was pitched straight into the action.
Rangers were without Carlos Bocanegra, after he picked up a knock in training, paving the way for Ross Perry to be drafted into defence.
Goalkeeper Cammy Bell started for Kilmarnock after recovering from injury, while Paul Heffernan recovered from injury to take his place in the starting line-up.
Aluko was in the thick of the action immediately when he found Steven Davis in the box, who teed up the shot for Nikica Jelavic in front of goal but the Croatian connected awkwardly and Bell was able to gather.
Jelavic then saw another effort crash off the post but the offside flag was already raised before he unleashed the shot.
Kilmarnock were dealt a blow when Danny Buijs pulled up with an injury after just seven minutes and was replaced by Danny Racchi.
Rangers continued to push forward in search of the opener and Bell raced off his line to smother at the feet of Davis before he could shoot.
The visitors also had to make a change when Kyle Lafferty was forced out of the action five minutes before half-time and he was replaced by Kane Hemmings.
Killie had a penalty claim ignored when Gary Harkins went to ground under pressure from Perry and Kirk Broadfoot but referee Alan Muir was unimpressed.
Bell then did well to save a powerful right-foot shot from Hemmings as the first half ended goalless.
Kilmarnock started the second half strongly and a Harkins effort trundled just past the upright and out of play after Steven Whittaker managed to get a block on the shot.
Jelavic then saw his headed clearance smack off his own crossbar under pressure from Pascali.
At the other end, Killie resorted to last-gasp defending when James Fowler hooked an Aluko drive off the line, before McGregor came to the rescue of Rangers with an excellent save after finding himself one-on-one with Racchi.
Aluko was again denied a goal on his maiden bow, this time by the woodwork when his shot squeezed through a congested goalmouth and struck the far post.
But he had an unwanted part to play when Kilmarnock opened the scoring with 10 minutes to go.
A corner broke to Fowler and he punted into the path of Pascali who nodded into the back of the net, with Aluko coming off the line and playing the Italian onside.
Kilmarnock Bell, Fowler, Sissoko, Pascali, McKeown, Kelly, Buijs (Racchi 7), Hay, Harkins, Shiels, Heffernan (Gros 90), Racchi (Silva 75).
Subs Not Used: Jaakkola, Dayton, Kroca, Pursehouse.
Goals: Pascali 80.
Rangers McGregor, Broadfoot, Perry, Goian, Whittaker, Davis, McCulloch, Edu (Bedoya 70), Lafferty (Hemmings 40), Jelavic, Aluko (Fleck 85).
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Juanma Ortiz, McKay, Bartley.
Att: 9, 506
Ref: Alan Muir (Scotland).