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5 things we learned from this weekend’s action north of the border

Rangers v Ross County – Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Premiership to 23 points while St Johnstone and Livingston have booked their place in next month’s Betfred Cup final.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at five things we learned from this weekend’s Scottish action:

Rangers’ title countdown continues

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Steven Gerrard and his players are sticking firmly to their one-game-at-a-time mantra but try telling that to the jubilant Gers support. Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing of Ross County means the Ibrox side are just nine wins away from being crowned champions and ending a decade of hurt. As each win is ticked off, the excitement levels among the fans will be cranked up again.

Martindale a good and proper boss

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Livingston boss David Martindale faces a Zoom hearing on Tuesday to decide if he meets the Scottish Football Association’s ‘fit and proper’ test after being given a six-and-a-half jail sentence for drug trafficking back in 2006. But there is no doubt he has the required football credentials having masterminded an 11-game unbeaten run since replacing Gary Holt. Martindale will argue he is firmly back on the straight and narrow having turned his life around – and his team have now set a direct course for the Betfred Cup final having edged out St Mirren 1-0 in Sunday’s semi-final.

Alexander’s referee run-ins continue

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New Motherwell boss Graham Alexander must be wondering what Scotland’s officials have got against him after seeing costly decisions go against him in each of his first three games in charge. He was denied a win on his dugout debut as Bobby Madden handed St Mirren a controversial penalty. Last week’s clash with Rangers then saw Cedric Itten rescue a point for Gerrard’s team with an offside header while Saturday’s clash at Pittodrie got away from Well when Liam Polworth was dismissed for “foul and abusive language”. Alexander plans to appeal against the sending-off but he will not get the points back after the 2-0 defeat to the Reds.

Hibernian need more fight in adversity

Hibernian manager Jack Ross stands dejected on the touchline as his side slumped against St Johnstone

Hibernian manager Jack Ross stands dejected on the touchline as his side slump against St Johnstone (Jeff Holmes/PA)

Head coach Jack Ross was angered by his team’s reaction to going two down against St Johnstone as they ultimately limped to a 3-0 defeat at Hampden. Ross told them they would need to show more “character and guts” in adversity after lamenting their meek display in the final 35 minutes.

St Johnstone developed a clinical streak when most needed

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Saints often failed to get the rewards for their overall play early in the season in particular, but they turned the tables at Hampden as they recorded their biggest win over top-flight opposition since November 2018. After being rescued by the frame of the goal twice and some good saves from Zander Clark in a torrid opening half hour, they scored from two set-pieces and netted from their first three real efforts at goal.