Kenny Miller has revealed his first instinct on seeing the red card shown to Andy Halliday at Cappielow on Monday night was to berate his team-mate for placing a Rangers victory under needless threat.
But the veteran striker’s emotions later changed to feeling sorry for Halliday and sharing the midfielder’s sense of grievance over his second caution from referee Barry Cook for his celebrations of Barrie McKay’s goal which put Rangers 2-0 up against Morton.
On the advice of assistant referee David McKniff, Halliday was deemed to have incited home supporters with an “offensive gesture” as he clenched his fists in the air towards the Rangers fans at one end of the ground before turning his head in the same motion towards the “cowshed” section hosting Morton followers.
Unlike his previous red card against Hibs at Ibrox in December, which was reduced to a yellow on appeal following Halliday’s clash with Fraser Fyvie, there is no available avenue to have Monday’s decision overturned.
Halliday will now be suspended for Rangers’ home game against Falkirk on Saturday and Miller believes the SFA should consider changing the disciplinary rules to allow dismissals for two yellow cards to be challenged.
“He was just celebrating a goal,” said Miller. “He might be looking over his shoulder, but it’s not as if he is looking over his shoulder to incite them or anything. It’s a very harsh booking. There’s no offensive gesture there. You’ve seen it many a time when players score and they’ve given it the ‘shhhh’ sign – now that’s a gesture. But there’s none of that with Andy and it’s very harsh.
“I’ve only ever been booked for over-celebrating by jumping into my own fans. Sometimes you get carried away and do things you shouldn’t, but in Andy’s case he’s done nothing wrong and he’s not caused any problems. It’s a poor yellow.
“He was punished in the Hibs game but fortunately it was a straight red and we could appeal it and it prevailed and the right thing got done. But in this situation it can’t happen.
“The rule could definitely be looked at. Whether it is right or wrong, only the ref will know that, but with gesturing – and I don’t even think there was any gesture towards the opposition fans – I think sometimes common sense should prevail and there should be a case of looking at it if it is two yellow cards.
“After seeing it again, I think there’s a lot of sympathy. When he first got sent off, I was angry because I thought ‘why has he given the ref an opportunity to send him off?’ But when you see it again there’s no offensive gesture, there’s no running towards opposition fans, so he’s going to be a loss. But we’ve got a big, good squad and it’s an opportunity for someone else to come in now. We’ll move on and focus on Falkirk.”
Monday night found Rangers some way short of the fluency which has been the hallmark of many of their performances under Mark Warburton this season. But Miller, whose 12th goal of the season set them on their way to the 2-0 win which put them five points clear of Hibs at the top of the Championship, believed the alternative manner in which they secured victory was another positive sign for their automatic promotion hopes.
“We showed a different side of our team at Cappielow,” added the 36-year-old. “We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game, we had to work hard and grind it out and we got a bit of luck with the first goal. But we defended well and got another clean sheet.
“Morton have caused us plenty of problems this year with the way they have set up and they posed an attacking threat too. We had to find a way to win and we’ve done that.
“I think we have moved on as the season has progressed. We have altered our shape but not the philosophy and ethos that we have. It helped us to stop their counter-attacks. We managed to nullify the threat posed by Morton. It’s maybe a sign of how far we’ve come.”