Ian Durrant has admitted that Tuesday night’s defeat on penalties by Queen of the South was a “kick in the teeth” for Rangers. However, the Ibrox assistant manager also views it as another harsh lesson for a young team who must quickly come to terms with the need to win every game.
On a busy night of domestic football in England, Rangers still managed to attract Britain’s highest crowd for their Ramsdens Cup loss to Allan Johnston’s side. Despite their faltering form in the Third Division this season, the Ibrox side had been expected to overcome the opposition from the league above. However, the crowd of nearly 24,000 were let down after another outing that strengthened the impression that Rangers are not going to have it all their own way this season.
Queen of the South, who were paired with Arbroath in the semi-final draw yesterday, proved awkward visitors, scoring an equaliser in injury-time to make it 2-2 and then triumphing 4-3 on penalties after extra-time had produced no further scoring. The Rangers players were back in training yesterday at the club’s training centre at Auchenhowie, where they were not permitted to feel sorry for themselves.
“We are disappointed,” said Durrant. “We had the game won and then some slackness turned the game. We had done enough to win the game and then we conceded in the 94th minute. We have to learn to defend a lot better. It opened the gates and Queen of the South got in again.
“We have watched the game again and it’s not sour grapes, but the [second] goal was offside,” he added. “They got their chance and they took it. We are just disappointed that after going down to ten men we had the game won and then we let it slip away. All credit to Queen of the South, but there was not a lot in the game.”
Durrant pointed to the callow nature of the side, with teenagers Barrie McKay and Lewis McLeod now regular starters. However, he accepted that a team including players such as Lee McCulloch, Dean Shiels and Ian Black should still be streetwise enough to prevail in such ties.
“We are still bedding in a few youngsters,” he said. “It is a hard one to take but it is a learning curve for them. We now have Montrose [on Saturday], then Motherwell [in the Communities League Cup] and then Forres Mechanics in the Scottish Cup, so we have three games to bounce back. Motherwell will be a big test. We have lost a few key players, but we just need to get on with it.
“Last night was a kick in the teeth. But we should have enough experience to see these games out, and we never did. We have to look at ourselves. We challenge ourselves every day. We came in today and we have a game on Saturday so we know we need to rectify it immediately.”
The players gathered at Murray Park yesterday as the inquest into Tuesday’s defeat began. “We talked about it before training,” said Durrant. “We will sit down on Friday and analyse the video. We have to show them what they are doing wrong. Hopefully then we can rectify things and start getting the results the fans deserve.
“We are in the Third Division now, we have to get on with it. We have lost 24 players and had to bed in a new team. We are playing on different surfaces. I am not making excuses, we have to do better. But we have to have a bit of patience. It is the youngest team that I have been involved in. We just have to make sure they get proper protection and it does not get too much for them. They are still expected to win every game. We switched off for one minute on Tuesday and lost a goal. We know it’s a tricky road ahead.”