'There's a riot happening because it's Leigh' - Dundee boss defends Celtic loanee for his role in angry fracas with Rangers players at Ibrox

Dundee manager James McPake insists he had no hesitation in sending Leigh Griffiths on against Rangers at Ibrox despite the abuse he received from the home support.

Dundee manager James McPake saw his team lose 3-0 to Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Dundee manager James McPake saw his team lose 3-0 to Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

McPake also defended Griffiths’ part in a second half flare-up which saw the on-loan Celtic striker booked for a foul on Joe Aribo which prompted a furious reaction from the Rangers players.

Griffiths was taunted by the Rangers fans every time he warmed up before entering to a cacophony of jeers when he came on as a substitute in the second half of Dundee’s 3-0 defeat.

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The former Scotland international almost had the last word with a stoppage time shot which struck Allan McGregor’s right hand post before rebounding off the Rangers goalkeeper and slipping narrowly wide.

McPake, who was also booked by referee Alan Muir, expressed pride in the response of his players who came to Griffiths’ aid during the flare-up which saw Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos cautioned for squaring up to the Dundee front man.

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“He is going to get a hostile reception,” said McPake. “He gets a hostile reception wherever he goes. It never crossed my mind to say: ‘I’m worried about putting him on’.

“Leigh’s a character who can take it on. You could see what they were trying to do in my opinion. He gets booked. I’ve not seen the tackle. Then all of a sudden there’s a riot happening because it’s Leigh.

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“Rangers players were coming in from everywhere. Fair play to my players. That’s what I want to see from my team, togetherness. Paul McMullan, Liam Fontaine, Ryan Sweeney, Paul McGowan all getting involved to help their team-mate out.

“To me, there was nothing in it. What I will say was I was miles away so I would need to see that from the analyst to see if that is worthy of a booking. If it is, then Alan has got one right.

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“Leigh was extremely unlucky with his only chance. Again, it is those wee things that you need to go in for you. It comes back off the post, hits McGregor and somehow doesn’t go in. Sometimes when you come to Celtic Park or Ibrox that’s just the way it goes.”

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