Rangers opened up a four-point gap at the top of the Scottish Premier League last night, courtesy of Daniel Cousin's late winner, and while victory at Fir Park was laboured, the Glasgow side's cause was not helped by the rank incompetence of the officials.
The romance of Gretna's swift ascent from non-league to top division has worn off and, as they are 11 points adrift at the foot of the table, relegation looks certain, although some feisty effort – as well as poor officiating – kept this result in the balance to the end. "There's always an element of frustration to refereeing decisions," said Rangers' manager, Walter Smith. "But most frustrating was I know we can play better."
For the first 45 minutes, albeit languidly, it was all Rangers and they did not score until the 45th minute, Cousin finding Steven Naismith, who headed on Barry Ferguson to drive in.
Kenny Deuchar headed an equaliser seconds after the restart before the referee, Iain Brines, erred badly. Rangers were denied a certain penalty after Naismith was felled. Gretna's goalkeeper, Tony Caig, then handled well outside his area. Nothing was given. Brines later did award a penalty to Naismith only to accept a linesman's decision the player was offside and retract it. Replays confirmed Naismith was onside .
But Cousin finally restored the lead with a well-taken finish to Jean-Claude Darchville's pass.
Gretna (4-5-1): Caig; Barr (Canning, 82), Collin, Hall, Naughton (Makinwa, 82); Yantorno, Osman (Buscher, 30), Jenkins, Murray, Skelton; Deuchar. Substitutes not used: Fleming (gk), Baldacchino, McGill, McLaren.
Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Whittaker, Cuellar, Weir, Papac; Burke, Hemdani, Ferguson, Adam; Cousin, Naismith (Darcheville, 67). Substitutes not used: Carroll (gk), Boyd, Novo, Broadfoot, Lennon, Furman.
Referee: I Brines.Reuse content