Tuesday, December 5, 2023

SPL still there to win says Gers boss (SN)

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 18 May 2008


Walter Smith believes there could still be another twist in the Scottish Premier League title race after Rangers' draw at Motherwell put Celtic in the driving seat.

The 1-1 draw on Saturday ended a miserable week for the Ibrox side after their 2-0 defeat in the UEFA Cup Final on Wednesday.

Rangers are now three points behind Celtic and, although Smith's team have a game-in-hand away to St Mirren on Monday, the Parkhead side are seven goals better off.

However, with both Glasgow giants facing tough away games in their final fixtures on Thursday, with Rangers at Aberdeen and Celtic at Dundee United, the Ibrox side's manager believes a lot could still change.

Smith said: “The players were disappointing after the game on Saturday but at the moment we still have a lot to play for.

“At the present time if we win both our games and Celtic win at Dundee United they will win on goal difference so they have a slight advantage.

“But going by the amount of effort that Motherwell put in to Saturday's game, when they had already secured third place, then those three games will not be easy.

“Dundee United will make it hard for Celtic, as will St Mirren and Aberdeen for Rangers, so a lot of things could change.”

Smith continued: “The most important thing for us now is to win at Love Street and then we can turn our attentions to Pittodrie. All three grounds are always difficult places to go. Teams always give their all against the Old Firm so they will make it difficult.

“Celtic might have a bit of an advantage but there is still a lot of football to be played.”

After Rangers' bid for an historic quadruple had been ended by their defeat against Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Cup, they were determined to keep on course for a domestic treble by beating Motherwell on Saturday.

And with the Fir Park side having already achieved their aim of finishing third in the SPL, the League Cup holders dominated the first half.

In the 29th minute Rangers grabbed the goal they so desperately sought.

Motherwell goalkeeper Graeme Smith misjudged Kirk Broadfoot's hopeful punt into the box allowing Rangers' defender Christian Dailly to beat him to the ball and nod into the empty net.

Daniel Cousin should have double Rangers' lead in the 46th minute when he barged past Mark Reynolds to go in on goal but the Gabon international's shot was saved by Smith.

And in the 49th minute Rangers were punished for this miss when Motherwell levelled.

A David Clarkson header rebounded off the post, the ball fell to Steve McGarry who sent it back across goal and Chris Porter prodded home from close range.

Although Rangers pressed for a winner their efforts became increasingly desperate and in the end Motherwell hung on comfortably for a share of the points.

Smith admitted his side have lacked a cutting edge in some of their most important games.

The Rangers manager said: “As has happened in numerous games throughout the season, we had plenty of pressure against Motherwell but just lacked that little bit of extra quality to turn that into goals.

“It's a problem we've had in quite a few games and we just didn't have that little bit of composure when we needed it.”

Rangers face a busy week as they bid to add the SPL and Scottish Cup to the League Cup trophy.

After St Mirren on Monday and Aberdeen on Thursday, the Ibrox side face First Division Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday.



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