Rangers boss Philippe Clement suggests Dundee pitch saga a factor in damaging defeat to Ross County

Celtic remain four points clear after shock result in Dingwall

Philippe Clement has suggested that the on-going saga with the Dens Park pitch was a factor in Rangers suffering a first-ever defeat to Ross County.

The setback in the Highlands leaves Rangers with little room for error with six games left in the title race. The Rangers manager rated the performance as the worst since he arrived at the club in October.

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The Ibrox side are due to travel to play Dundee on Wednesday but it’s not yet certain where that game will be played due to the state of the park. The clash has already been rescheduled twice after failing inspections, one just ninety minutes before kick-off.

Rangers defender Connor Goldson looks dejected at full time after the 3-2 defeat to Ross County. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Rangers defender Connor Goldson looks dejected at full time after the 3-2 defeat to Ross County. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Rangers defender Connor Goldson looks dejected at full time after the 3-2 defeat to Ross County. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

The SPFL will make a decision on the whereabouts of the match by midday on Tuesday with St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park emerging as a potential venue. Wherever it takes place Rangers now know they simply must win – which was the requirement even before the shock loss to Ross County this afternoon.

Clement’s side went in front through an own goal from home side’s skipper Jack Baldwin but a quickfire double after half time though Simon Murray and George Harmon meant Rangers were forced to chase the game. They conceded again through Josh Sims after 69 minutes.

A late penalty from James Tavernier – his 50th in the league for Rangers – saw Rangers cut the deficit with a minute left. Although a further seven minutes were added on at the end there was no further scoring. The Ibrox side remain four points behind Celtic with one game in hand, at a venue to be confirmed on Wednesday.

Asked whether his side need to win all remaining six games, including against Celtic at Parkhead, Clement said he was “not a mathematician”.

The Rangers managed added: “I do not know. We are going to go every game to win the game and we will see in the last two games what the ranking is. The same story as it was three days ago or one week ago. We need to be focused on us.”

He then referenced the Dens Park pitch saga. “Maybe it was part of what happened today. It is not an excuse, but it’s been all week about anything except football in our club and around our club so maybe that influenced things, but it is not an excuse. We need to win games whatever the situation.”

Regarding the Dens Park situation, he stressed it was far from ideal to not know the venue of a game with huge bearing on the title race at such a late stage. “That stays a strange situation but it is not in my hands,” he said. “I need to focus on the football and that is what we will do.”

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He did, however, admit it was a strain when it came to such logistical details as organising accommodation. “You do not even know what hotel you need to take,” he said. “Okay, but these are decisions above my head.”

He accepted his players were the ones at fault for “throwing away” a lead against Ross County, who are now just a point behind St Johnstone in 10th place as they bid to escape the relegation danger zone.

“We didn't start well in the first half on the ball and in the duels,” said Clement. “We had chances but we were not lethal with the chances we had in the first half, a few of which were clear ones.

“You come into half time in a good way 1-0 ahead and I warned the players it was not good enough in the first half and I wanted to see more [after the break] and get the clean sheet, but then you concede two goals in five minutes or something like that and start to chase the game.

“That makes it more difficult. In the last half hour, I saw the urgency and I wanted to see that 90 minutes long, not 30 minutes.”

The away supporters waved the players away at the end but Clement believed the fact his team were intent on applauding the supporters is a sign of how far things have come in six months.

“It is already a big step forward that they went to the fans and showed their respect for everyone that travelled that far and it shows also how much respect there is from both sides,” he said. “It is about standing up on Wednesday and taking three points. It is all about that. We have now been six months together. I have not seen a performance in these six months like I saw today. We have to take the good lessons out of that and react. Because they have shown enough times that they can do much better than they did today.”



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