Smith hails McGregor after last-gasp win
Rangers manager Walter Smith hailed the efforts of Allan McGregor against Hamilton as the goalkeeper prepares for what could be one of his busiest nights of the season against Manchester United at Old Trafford next week.
McGregor was on fine form with a number of excellent saves as the reigning champions ran out 2-1 winners in the Scottish Premier League thanks to a last-minute winner from Kenny Miller.
The win allowed Rangers to keep the pressure on rivals Celtic ahead of their own game against Hearts later in the day and also provided the required confidence boost ahead of the Champions League clash at Old Trafford.
McGregor could find himself one of the hardest-worked Rangers players on Tuesday but Smith believes he could not be in better shape heading into the European opener.
"He has done well for us for a long period and we are delighted with that aspect, his consistency of form has been terrific," Smith said. He is an exceptional saver of the ball, we see him do that every day in training.
"His level of performance has been fantastic for us spread over the three-year period, not just in a game like today when he makes a couple of really good saves. He has been doing that for us on a regular basis.''
Nikica Jelavic opened his goalscoring account for Rangers early on at New Douglas Park, before Hamilton looked set to earn a deserved point thanks to an own-goal from Madjid Bougherra.
However, Miller came off the bench to rescue the match for Rangers and claim his sixth SPL goal of the season.
"We are delighted Kenny managed to get the winner for us, which keeps up a good run of scoring from him. He's been terrific for us. He's been one of the players who has started the season extremely well.
"He's adding goals to his overall performance. He got a fair number of goals for us last season but he has been on a terrific run at the moment.''
Smith was also satisfied with £4 million signing Jelavic's first start but urged fans to be patient with fellow new recruit James Beattie, who is not yet fully up to speed.
"When you get new players, you have to give them a chance to settle in. James Beattie has not played any football since Christmas and it's going to take him a number of games to get back to form.
"If we had managed to get him right at the start of pre-season it would have helped but we didn't and he's having to find match fitness in competitive games which is always difficult.
"So we have to give the strikers every opportunity to settle in. Nikica Jelavic did very well today in what is a difficult ground for us to come to and play at.''
Kirk Broadfoot was forced out of the action with an ankle injury and is a doubt for the Champions League but Kyle Lafferty should be fit despite a calf complaint and Steven Whittaker should return for the visit south of the border.
Despite ending the game empty-handed, Accies boss Billy Reid had few complaints about his players and believes they are now ready to make their mark on the SPL following a difficult start to the campaign, which saw them suffer back-to-back 4-0 defeats.
"Over the 90 minutes, I think we probably merited a point," Reid said. "I don't think we deserved to win the game and I don't think Rangers deserved to either but they scored a goal and that's why they are champions.
"I've no complaints at all and will try to take the positives from the game. We have come a long way since the start of the season and I've now got a squad that's ready to challenge and I've no doubt this team will start winning games in the SPL.''