Kennedy believes that the actions of Walsh, officiating in the fixture for the first time, contributed to a desperate outcome for the Parkhead men, with McGregor’s second yellow dished out after Walsh had played advantage in the move that brought the home side’s opener - a decision that was also questionable under a rule change introduced for this season. Kennedy’s frustration, though, centred on his player’s first caution in the 24th minute, two minutes before his second.
“I asked the referee for clarity at half-time on why he booked him for the first one,” he said. “His words to me exactly were ‘it was a reckless challenge’. It wasn’t reckless, I’ve seen it. There was no malice, no intent in terms of any power behind the tackle. It was a big game for a young official who doesn’t have a lot of experience. He makes a very harsh call which costs us.
“Callum being sent off at the same time as Rangers score obviously swings the game in their favour. Then we got ourselves back into it but in key moments we weren’t strong enough in defending our box. When we did have our chances, which are always going to be hard to come by with 10 men, we just couldn’t get the ball in the net.
“Callum is gutted. He has put himself in the firing line for so long, he’s been a huge part of our success and will be going forward. He is the most disappointed man at Ibrox today. I feel for him because I don’t think he deserved it. Okay, he makes a decision to go to ground [for the second one] which he’ll learn from. But he shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place, he shouldn’t have had a yellow card earlier.
“The referee’s made that decision and we have to deal with it. We have to pick ourselves up. The boys showed character. We had to be brave in the second half to take the ball. It’s easy to just kick the ball up the pitch and Rangers just keep coming after you. At times, we had to try and make them run about, try and create and pull them open. We did that but Rangers at key moments took their chances.
“That’s been the way it is. Again, we need to keep working on that and learning from it. It’s always difficult when you go down to 10 men. But it’s not the end of the game, you still have a strategy to try and get yourself back in. We made that difficult for ourselves. The fourth one came in stoppage time but we had moments before then when we could have got it back to 3-2 and had a bit of a go. I can’t fault the players in terms of their effort. It’s very difficult when you are having to work with a man less but, again, it is key moments [which have cost us].”