For Greg Docherty, the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition proved painfully anti–climactic as his Old Firm debut ended in defeat on Sunday.
The Rangers midfielder can at least attempt to console himself with the thought he is still very much at the start of a career with the club he supports which will offer him many more opportunities to enjoy happier experiences against Celtic.
With the Scottish champions having taken a massive stride towards securing a seventh consecutive league title with their dramatic 3-2 win at Ibrox, the only remaining realistic chance for Rangers to prosper at the expense of their great rivals is in the Scottish Cup.
The teams collide once more at Hampden on 15 April in the semi-finals and Docherty admits it is a date already ringed in red on his calendar.
“We’re hurting and we need to remember this feeling and take it into that game,” said the 21-year-old
“It’s a massive game and a chance for us to rectify it soon. I’m hurting at the moment so it’s not one I will remember fondly. Yes, it’s a proud moment [to make my Old Firm debut for Rangers] but ultimately we didn’t come away with the points that we needed so I’ll be trying to forget this and look forward to the next one.”
While Docherty certainly didn’t look out of his depth in the maelstrom of one of the most compelling 90 minutes between the Glasgow giants in some time, he was left to rue the overall flaws in Rangers’ performance which saw them unable to capitalise on either taking the lead twice or Celtic having Jozo Simunovic, pictured, sent off early in the second half with the scoreline still at 2-2. “It’s a tough one and left a real sour taste in our mouths to lose it in that fashion,” the former Hamilton Accies man told Rangers TV.
“The second and third goals, particularly, are very sloppy goals to concede. We’re a very disappointed dressing-room.
“We’re all gutted and I’m gutted for the fans. They came out and the atmosphere was incredible. We couldn’t have asked for any more backing and it’s so disappointing we couldn’t reward them.
“When Celtic went down to ten men, for some reason we stopped moving the ball as quickly. We’ll need to look back at that and see why it was. You can’t give good teams chances like that and it’s poor defending on our part all over the pitch.
“To score two at home but concede three – it’s just not good enough.”
It was a sixth home defeat of the season for Rangers in the Premiership, their struggle to find consistency at Ibrox proving a major factor in preventing them from posing a genuine threat to Celtic in the title race.
They face another testing assignment in front of their own supporters this Saturday when in-form Kilmarnock, who claimed a point in a 1-1 draw on their previous visit back in October, as their opponents.
“We’re a disheartened dressing-room just now, but we need to pick ourselves up again,” added Docherty.
“It’s massive for us on Saturday as it’s obviously a chance again for us to bounce back. Kilmarnock are doing well just now and they have a game in the Scottish Cup on Tuesday against Aberdeen first, so they will be putting a lot of effort into that.
“We have got to focus on us, and I think we have got to go now and put in a performance that the fans deserve.
“Losing to Celtic is a real sore one. It will be tough to get over but we are going to have to do it.”