Josh Windass insists Rangers can hold off challengers for second place after his hat-trick helped the Ibrox side leapfrog Aberdeen in the league.
The 24 year-old celebrated signing a contract extension last week with a second hat-trick inside three weeks, having also earned the match ball against Fraserburgh in the Scottish Cup. However, yesterday’s haul in the 5-3 win over Hamilton Accies was his first against league opposition.
Windass has now scored nine goals in his last five appearances but revealed manager Graeme Murty tried to rob him of one of his goals yesterday.
Windass’ first was fumbled over the line by Hamilton goalkeeper Gary Woods. Murty was so convinced it should not be awarded to the Rangers player he nearly refused to sign Windass’ match ball.
“I was always going to claim it,” said Windass. “It was on target so as far as I’m concerned it’s my goal.
“The manager wasn’t so sure. He wasn’t going to sign my ball although he did in the end.
“It was a nice way to celebrate getting a new contract but the most important thing was to win the game,” he added.
“I don’t think we actually played well and against a better team we would have been punished. Hopefully, we will improve on that next week.”
Rangers are now above Aberdeen on goal difference. Hibs are five points behind in fourth place. The Ibrox side are at home against Hearts this weekend.
“We are second now again and hopefully we can make the gap bigger,” said Windass.
“That’s been our problem since I’ve been here. Under Mark Warburton [last season] we had a nine-point gap in second and they caught us and that was disappointing and we are not going to let that happen this time.”
Windass has now scored 15 goals this season, one behind strike partner Alfredo Morelos.
“There is healthy competition between us all,” he said. “Me and Alfredo have a bit of banter going on about who is going to score the most.
“That is good to have in the team. And as long as one of us keeps scoring then it doesn’t really matter.”
Hamilton manager Martin Canning was left frustrated after watching his side concede “avoidable” goals.
“If someone had said to me before the game we would score three goals against Rangers I’d have expected to take something from the game,” said Canning.
“But when you defend like we did today that makes it hard. Four of their five goals were avoidable.
“I have got sympathy for Woodsy [Gary Woods], though, because he almost never makes mistakes. Hopefully he puts it behind him and gets back on with it next week.”