RANGERS manager Stuart McCall refused to put the boot into his players after they crashed to a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Queen of the South last night.
The Ibrox side looked to be building up a head of steam in the battle for second place in the SPFL Championship after winning their previous three games. However, the recently-appointed McCall was given a stark reminder of the fragility of his squad as they lost their way following a bright opening half hour and collapsed to their biggest-ever defeat against the Dumfries side.
Derek Lyle and Gavin Reilly scored for the hosts either side of an own-goal from stand-in captain Lee Wallace as Rangers were left level on points with second-place Hibs, albeit with a game in hand.
Instead of chastising his team for what was their second-heaviest loss of an ignominious season, McCall was adamant that it will prove to be a blip and that there will be a positive reaction when they host Raith Rovers on Sunday. “I was happy with the way we started the game,” said McCall. “If we had gone ahead it could have been different. But we didn’t. A few players didn’t perform as well as they have in the last three or four games. I don’t think that was down to complacency. When we aren’t at our best – which we need to be because we aren’t the greatest of sides – we’re up against it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there will be ups and downs between now and the end of the season. It’s how we react to it, and Sunday can’t come quickly enough for me.
“We’ve talked about going into the play-offs with momentum. Tonight is a setback but we’ve got to make sure on Sunday we don’t have another setback or then it can become a problem. Confidence won’t be a factor on Sunday. We’ll be fully focused and we’ll look to get the three points.”
The win – their second at home over Rangers this season – lifted Queens back above Falkirk in the battle for fourth ahead of Sunday’s Palmerston showdown between the two. “Everybody was excellent,” said proud manager James Fowler. “It was backs to the wall in the first half but to get the goal so early in the second half was a real bonus and gave us a nice cushion.”
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