Rangers stars '˜showed their passion for the shirt'

Relieved Graeme Murty praised his under-fire Rangers players as they ended a miserable month with victory over St Johnstone.
Rangers Barry McKay celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Picture: PARangers Barry McKay celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Picture: PA
Rangers Barry McKay celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game. Picture: PA

The 10-man Light Blues had Emerson Hyndman to thank for his stoppage-time winner after blowing a two-goal lead.

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Their 3-2 triumph was their first Ladbrokes Premiership win since the end of January and sees them trim second-placed Aberdeen’s lead back to six points.

It also gives them an eight-point cushion over Hearts and caretaker boss Murty admitted he was just glad to see a smile back on the faces of his team.

He said: “The main emotion is relief that a group of players who fully deserved the win managed to come off with three points.

“They showed a little bit of the spirit we’ve been asking for.

“We have to be a bit more clinical in the box but I’m relieved for the players because they’ve had a hard time of it. Potentially they could have gone under but they managed to come through.

“It’s an easy stick to beat footballers with to say they don’t care, that they are overpaid and don’t care about the shirt. But our guys’ reaction tonight will reveal that to be a lie and I’m really happy for them.

“Now is not the time for me to be personally satisfied. I’ll have a cold glass of wine later on.

“I’m more relieved for the players. They have taken a bit of a shoeing over the last few weeks. But they are going out of here with a good result in difficult circumstances, so I’d like to pat them on the back.”

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It is understood that Rangers hope to appoint their new director of football on Friday, and plan to have whittled their four-man shortlist for a new manager down to one by next week.

Alex McLeish and Pedro Caixinha are among those candidates but it will be Murty who will remain in charge for Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash with Hamilton.

And he will be anxious to avoid a repeat of the mistakes which let Tommy Wright’s come close to a point.

Barrie McKay slammed home Gers’ opener after 22 minutes before Martyn Waghorn headed in the second just after the break.

But Gers took their foot of the gas and allowed David Wotherspoon to strike before Rob Kiernan got himself sent off for a needless lunge on Graham Cummins.

Saints skipper Steven Anderson thought he had grabbed a point with three minutes left - only for Hyndman to have the last laugh.

“We let Saints back in to the game by being a little loose at times,” admitted Murty. “But the amount of forward play we had and chances we created, we could have won by three of four had we been a bit more clinical.

“If we are a bit more clinical those nervous moments don’t come.

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“My reaction at the time of the sending-off was to try and fix the problem. When I have a considered moment I’ll have a look at it and decide what I actually think of the challenge.

“But what I will say is that Rob has made the referee make a decision. The referee has made his decision based on what he saw and we will have to live with it.

“But I thought, though, that the fellas responded quite well after that.”

Wright admitted the defeat was another blow after watching his side put on their worst performance of his three-year reign while losing to Kilmarnock at the weekend.

He said: “There was a lot of disappointment on Saturday with the performance - but it’s a different kind of disappointment tonight.

“We responded well to Saturday and showed a lot of character to get back in the game.

“But we should see the game out and we didn’t. I’m gutted for the lads because they showed both character and quality to get back in it. It’s a huge disappointment.”