Having played well for long spells of their previous two league games against Dundee United and Motherwell only to be held to draws, the reigning champions were far from their best against St Johnstone but crucially grounded out a victory they so badly needed.
On a difficult playing surface, they experienced some tense moments against their battling hosts. Unable to build on the lead provided by Kamara, this turned into an exercise in resilience for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team.
With nine games remaining, they may have to negotiate many similar challenges if they are to retain their crown in May.
Kamara’s early breakthrough had soothed the visiting supporters who had arrived in Perth in a mutinous mood.
The Rangers directors were certainly left in no doubt as to the level of dissent in the air over their club’s announced participation in the Sydney Super Cup along with Celtic in November.
Expletive-laden chants were accompanied by a variety of banners registering the protests of the Rangers fans, including one reading ‘Money over morals, no derby friendlies’.
In attending the more immediate business of keeping a title defense on track, van Bronckhorst’s men couldn’t have made a better start.
The goal was one of great simplicity but supreme effectiveness, Connor Goldson’s through ball flicked on by Alfredo Morelos to pick out the advanced run of Kamara who guided a cool finish low beyond St Johnstone goalkeeper Elliot Parish.
Rangers were unable to gather any great momentum, however, and Saints battled their way back into what became an attritional affair.
Morelos was unlucky not to double the lead when he struck Parish’s left hand post but there was little in the way of fluency from the Ibrox men.
They did continue to create the better chances – Scott Arfield blazed over from a good position just before the break, then Morelos and Joe Aribo both forced saves from Parish early in the second half.
Parish then made his best stop of the evening when he touched another effort from Arfield just wide, although his intervention was not spotted by referee Willie Collum who awarded a goal kick to the anguish of the Rangers players.
Saints created little through open play themselves but it became increasingly nervous for Rangers in the closing stages. Just one mistake could deal their title hopes another major blow and it almost came in the 72nd minute.
James Tavernier and Allan McGregor got themselves in a real mix-up, neither committing to cut out a through ball as Ali Crawford nipped in between them on the edge of the box. With their appeals for a foul rejected by Collum, they were fortunate that Crawford was unable to take advantage.
The Rangers fans voiced their displeasure as van Bronckhorst chose not to make any substitutions as the clock ticked on but he was vindicated as his starting line-up saw the job through.
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