Rangers.....................0 Dundee.....................0

RANGERS' troubles continued to mount last night as they stumbled once again in their search for a trophy in this last season of manager Walter Smith's career in charge.

Once more, Rangers failed to deliver victory in a match they were expected to win and last night Dundee travelled home celebrating not just a #250,000 pay day at Ibrox but also the fact that their reputation remained intact. Now the Ibrox men must go to Dens Park for the replay next Tuesday, a dangerous journey against a side whose confidence grew as last night's game went on.

Indeed, at the end, when the match moved into injury time - referee Jim McCluskey allowed four minutes extra - it was Dundee who were attacking and Dundee who were forcing corners. By then, the Rangers fans were leaving, and those who stayed did so only to jeer their team from the field after yet another flop.

The Dens Park team had not been able to trouble Rangers with any even remotely memorable attacks. However, they were able to hang in determinedly and to prevent the Ibrox men taking control of the match.

Rangers dominated the first half, but the men from the first division began to realise that they might be able to match the Glasgow giants and, in the end, they held them to the draw - going one better than their city rivals, United, had done against Celtic 24 hours earlier. Rangers had been hampered beforehand by the absence of such internationalists as Paul Gascoigne, Brian Laudrup, Gordon Durie, and skipper Richard Gough. Nor did their injury worries ease during the game.

Before half-time, Sergio Porrini limped off after a late tackle from Dariusz Adamczuk for which the Polish player was cautioned. Then, after 69 minutes, Jonas Thern, also left the field injured and, on each occasion, Rangers were forced into yet another reshuffle and ended with a defence that few would have recognised.

However, their problems also came up front, where chances were squandered throughout the match, particularly by Jonatan Johansson, who repeatedly was given opportunities to push the team in front and repeatedly missed them.

It was another 90 minutes Rangers will want to put behind them, but it is a game that will live in the memories of these Dundee players, who proved, as Falkirk did at the weekend, that the first division is alive and well.

Manager Jocky Scott can look on the performance of young Robert Douglas with pride. The goalkeeper played with so much confidence that he eventually must have broken the hearts of the Rangers front men.

Mind you, there was not much he could have done with the chance that came as early as the third minute when Jorg Albertz lofted a ball forward over the Dundee defence. Marco Negri moved clear of his marker, Robert Raeside, and hammered in a shot that struck the bar and came clear.

Soon afterwards, however, Douglas showed his ability with stops from Thern and Johansson and then another from a vicious Albertz drive.

Dundee were a shade fortunate after 27 minutes, when Negri flicked the ball away from Raeside only for the defender to bring him down. It seemed a penalty, but the referee waved play on, and Dundee survived just as they did again before half-time when Douglas saved another shot from the Italian striker.

At the start of the second half, Rangers had seemed to have lost some of their first-half momentum and there were signs of the pressure they were under when Thern was cautioned for a wild challenge on Adamczuk. Seven minutes into the second half, they had their first shot of note when Raeside directed a volley wide from 25 yards.

Johansson missed the simplest chance of the game when he headed the ball over the bar from six yards. Then, after Seb Rozental had come on for Thern and Ally McCoist replaced the Finnish player, it was Negri who twice shot over before Rangers had their last chance of victory.

Rozental was left lying injured after his brave diving header was blocked by Douglas. The Chilean returned in injury time as Dundee had their best period of the match pushing forward as they had not done earlier in the match.

These few frantic minutes at the end left us wondering just how the ramshackle Rangers defence would have coped if the men from Tayside had shown a little more self-belief earlier in the match.

Rangers - Goram, Cleland, Albertz, Petric, Porrini, Bjorklund, Thern, McCall, Negri, B Ferguson, Johansson. Substitutes - McCoist, Rozental, Moore.

Dundee - Douglas, Smith, Raeside, Adamczuk, Irvine, Rogers, Maddison, Magee, Annand, Grady, McInally. Substitutes - Tully, Anderson, McCormick.

Referee - J McCluskey (Stewarton).