ALEX McLEISH has praised Marvin Andrews for his rock-solid performance at the heart of Rangers' defence during this afternoon's hard-fought 2-1 victory over Aberdeen.
The giant Trinidadian turned in a sensational display alongside Bob Malcolm at Pittodrie and dealt with everything Jimmy Calderwood's side threw at him, especially in the closing stages when The Dons launched ball after ball into the Light Blues' box.
Dado Prso grabbed his 12th goal of the season early on then Kevin McNaughton put the ball into his own net moments later before Darren Mackie pulled one back before the break.
However, Rangers defended stoutly in the second period and head back to Glasgow worthy winners.
A delighted McLeish, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Friday, said: "Big Marvin was a rock and he did really well alongside Bob Malcolm today.
"Darren Mackie's pace was a real threat but Marvin was an absolute tower.
"Aberdeen were throwing a lot of high balls into our box in the second-half and I think we may have capitulated last season but he dealt with them really well this afternoon.
"Marvin has exceeded expectations this season and played more games than perhaps I would even have thought.
"It is hard to leave him out after that kind of performance.
"Marvin's place is secure and Sotirios Kyrgiakos is coming in next week so we have good options in defence for Livingston next Saturday.
"Kyrgiakos was brought in as an out-and-out centre half and, if everything goes well in training, I would expect him to take his place in a centre-back berth against Livi."
Rangers have reduced Celtic's SPL lead to just three points and McLeish knows you have to win at grounds like Pittodrie to become champions.
He said: "It's always a tough venue so I am very, very happy to get the three points.
"We took the game to Aberdeen from the whistle and Dado scored a great goal early on. We rested him last Saturday and he has been looking sharp in training all week as a result. I think the break did him some good.
"Fernando Ricksen used the elements really well for our second goal, it was a great delivery. His set-pieces this season have been fantastic but I wasn't so happy with the fact Aberdeen scored so quickly after the own goal."