Col­lum con­tin­ues to con­found Ger­rard

The Herald on Sunday - - SPORT -

STEVEN Ger­rard was in mid-flow when footage of Daniel Can­deias’s sec­ond book­ing flashed up on the tele­vi­sion in­side the St Mir­ren press room.

The Rangers man­ager was not im­pressed with what he saw.

Can­deias had been the hero. His for­tu­itous goal set up a win that didn’t look like it was com­ing dur­ing the first 80 min­utes of this Pais­ley en­counter. The winger was, how­ever, booked for over-cel­e­brat­ing his strike and, when Al­fredo More­los dou­bled the Ibrox side’s lead 10 min­utes later, the Por­tuguese was blow­ing kisses to the St Mir­ren sup­port­ers when Craig Sam­son, goal­keeper of the home side, put an arm around him to ask him to stop, which he did, and he even seemed to agree that he had been a bit over the top.

Noth­ing to see here.

Cue St Mir­ren de­fender An­ton Fer­di­nand, who then ap­proached Can­deias. He also put an arm around him but then gave him a bit of a sly jab with his fist.

The Rangers man didn’t even have time to re­act be­fore ref­eree Wil­lie Col­lum showed him a sec­ond yel­low card.

A frus­trated Ger­rard re­sponded: “So Daniel gets a yel­low card for that! Come on, lads. Be se­ri­ous. What does he get a yel­low card for? The sec­ond yel­low card is em­bar­rass­ing.

“It’s em­bar­rass­ing. There is your ev­i­dence. That’s what you’re deal­ing with.”

He was right. It was a ridicu­lous de­ci­sion. And the na­ture of the book­ing means Rangers can’t ap­peal. Col­lum really has to do bet­ter. It was a noth­ing mo­ment and if any­one was the in­sti­ga­tor it was Fer­di­nand.

Rangers had huffed and puffed for most of an af­ter­noon that hardly re­quired any more wind and had the con­di­tions to thanks for them squeez­ing past a St Mir­ren side that de­served bet­ter.

There was just over 10 min­utes to go of an equal con­test when the ball left Can­deias’s right foot, moved di­rec­tion in the air and dipped over de­spair­ing St Mir­ren goal­keeper Sam­son’s hand.

Whether it was a shot or a cross, the Rangers sub­sti­tute had a gust of wind to thank.

Such a late set­back killed off St Mir­ren’s spirit and their sev­enth Pre­mier­ship de­feat in a row was sealed in in­jury time when More­los blasted the ball past Sam­son from a tight an­gle.

Ger­rard said: “Ac­cord­ing to Daniel, he meant it. I’ve been in the game a long time and haven’t seen any­one score one of those, not on pur­pose any­way.

“We know these teams will hang in. They’ve got a lot to play for and are go­ing to fight and be dif­fi­cult to break down. So, for us, it was about pa­tience. The pleas­ing thing for me is we didn’t get frus­trated with the break not com­ing, es­pe­cially in the first 60-odd min­utes.

“The lads kept plug­ging away, kept cre­at­ing chances and, iron­i­cally, it came with a lit­tle bit of luck, but I be­lieve you make your own luck in this game. We fin­ished the game off and I’m really pleased with the three points.”

The wind and a lack­lus­tre Rangers aided St Mir­ren in the first half. Al­lan McGre­gor has been his side’s best player this sea­son, ar­guably the best per­former in the coun­try so far, and he made two saves which for him have be­come rou­tine when they were any­thing but.

Five min­utes had gone when More­los fool­ishly and need­lessly clipped the heels of St Mir­ren cap­tain Stephen McGinn in an area in which any team would fancy a free-kick. Ian McShane had ev­ery­one think­ing he was go­ing to cross and in­stead he crisply sent a curl­ing shot head­ing to the top cor­ner only for the pesky McGre­gor to get his hand up to make a save.

The Rangers goalie was at it again on 13 min­utes. Danny Mullen’s cross from the right picked out Ryan Ed­wards at the back post, and at the sec­ond at­tempt the Aus­tralian got off a shot on the turn, and McGre­gor got a hand to the ball. There was al­ways the feel­ing St Mir­ren needed to score in the first half when con­di­tions favoured them and they were the bet­ter team.

Rangers vastly im­proved af­ter the break.

Con­nor Gold­son man­aged to glance a header from a cor­ner wide when un­marked and two yards from goal. There was a crazy 30 sec­onds which saw Scott Ar­field, Can­deias and Ovie Ejaria all have ef­forts cleared off the line in quick suc­ces­sion, as Sam­mon and Fer­di­nand some­how man­aged to keep the ball out be­tween them.

St Mir­ren gave ev­ery­thing and more but they missed cap­tain McGinn, the best player on show, when in­jury forced the mid­fielder off. They were un­able to hold on but man­ager Oran Kear­ney s aw pos­i­tives.

The North­ern Ir­ish­man said: “We’re dis­ap­pointed to lose the game. The first goal is very im­por­tant and if it’s a shot and he meant it then I’ll doff my cap, but if it’s a cross then that’s a dis­ap­point­ing one.

“The first goal into the last part of the game was al­ways go­ing to have a huge ef­fect.

“Stephen is our cap­tain and a main player so him go­ing off was al­ways go­ing to have an im­pact.

“His per­for­mance was strong to­day and he led the way as you would ex­pect. We had to re­place him with a young player and, no of­fence to Cammy Smith, but in the late stages of the game you would have liked Stephen to have still been on the pitch.”

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