28 Jan Warbs applauds
Mark Warburton hailed 10-man Rangers for weathering a Fir Park storm as they reclaimed second spot.
Gers looked to be in trouble against Motherwell when wideman Michael O’Halloran was sent off for a dangerous stamp on Carl McHugh just five minutes in.
But they survived a Well onslaught before referee Willie Collum evened up the contest when he flashed another red at Scott McDonald following the Australian’s late lunge on Kenny Miller.
With parity restored, the Light Blues grew to dominate, sealing their second win in a week over Mark McGhee’s men with late strikes from Miller and Emerson Hyndman.
Warburton said: “I thought for four or five minutes after the sending-off we lost our composure and gave the ball away cheaply.
“But we quickly regained it. We had good passages of play. The midfield three were finding blue shirts and once it evened up I thought we dominated.
“We spoke at half-time about being braver, breaking lines, testing the keeper. Second half we were very dominant, I don’t think Wes Foderingham had a save to make while we got the rewards. I thought it was a good victory.”
O’Halloran walked after catching McHugh high on the Well midfielder’s thigh, while McDonald was then dismissed in in the 26th minute when he followed through in a challenge on Miller.
“I asked Michael just now and there’s no intent, I am sure of that,” said Warburton. “But if you catch him, you catch him.
“I thought Scott’s was a bad one, that was my initial reaction. But I haven’t seen it again yet so it wouldn’t be right to comment on it. My first reaction was a bad tackle but I am never going to call for a player to be sent off. I’d like to see it again.”
McGhee had an opposing view of the incident but refused to criticise Collum.
He said: “The ball gets away from him but he toes it away. His foot’s on the ground, it’s not a sending-off.
“I don’t have any fears over the ref – he made a decision. Seeing it again, it’s probably a poor decision, but it’s not done to even things up, he thinks it’s a sending-off.”
Gers moved into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup when two late Miller strikes killed off Motherwell last week.
And the veteran hitman proved to be a thorn in the Steelmen’s side once again as he sent Gers on the way to the win which sees them reclaim second place from Aberdeen.
The 37-year-old – who is yet to be offered a deal for next season – finished off a move started by Hyndman after 72 minutes, with the on-loan Bournemouth youngster then capping his full debut with the clincher three minutes from time.
That led to more praise from Warburton, who said: “Emerson is positive, his first thought is to play forward. That’s the sign of a very good player. To make his debut in that manner, I am delighted.
“With Kenny, it’s not about new contracts. It’s just about being the best he can be.”
McGhee cut a desolate figure after his team’s late collapse last week but this time he said: “I’m not too upset by it, certainly not like last week – we had good spirit, good energy, we passed the ball well at times although we needed to convert the early chances we made.
“I’m optimistic, though, that we’ve got the strongest squad we’ve had this season and I think we have a lot to look forward to.
“We were better when we both had 11. With 10 men we never created any real chances.”