Miller has Rangers fans singing in Cup drama
Rangers 1 St Mirren 0
Kenny Miller revealed he had goosebumps when he heard Rangers fans sing his name after his winning goal helped the nine-man Ibrox side to Co-operative Insurance Cup final victory over St Mirren at Hampden.
The former Celtic player returned from Derby for a second spell at Rangers in the summer of 2008 and due to his time at Parkhead he was castigated from the stands by Light Blues supporters for months afterwards.
However, his rehabilitation in the eyes of those fans appeared to be complete after he headed Steven Naismith's cross past Paul Gallacher with minutes remaining and after Kevin Thomson and Danny Wilson had been ordered off in the second half.
“It was probably one of the first times I heard them sing my name since I came back,” said Miller.
“It gave me goosebumps to be honest and it confirmed that I have maybe been accepted, so I am over the moon.
“It is great for me to get the goal, but it is more important that we won the game.
“It was tough when we went down to nine men and you might feel that it is not going to be your day,but there is a determination here.
“We didn't want to get beat. We were all trying to run forward to get a goal and then run back to defend.
“Fortunately enough we managed to get the break at the end.”
Thomson was deservedly sent- off for a lunging tackle on St Mirren’s Steven Thomson eight minutes into the second-half.
Wilson's dismissal with 20 minutes remaining for a 'last man' foul on Saints substitute Craig Dargo looked to have made it even more challenging for the Light Blues, but Miller's dramatic late header took the cup back to Govan.
Gers manager Walter Smith claimed the dismissals of Thomson and Wilson helped spur Rangers on to victory.
And having collected the season’s first silverware, Rangers target will now be to add the Scottish Premier League title and Scottish Cup in May and finish the campaign with the domestic treble.
The Rangers boss was not too critical of referee Craig Thomson, insisting that the official had inadvertently done his side a favour.
Smith included Northern Ireland midfielder Steve Davis in the starting line-up despite him being unwell in the build-up to the game, but he only lasted 45 minutes, while his international colleague Kyle Lafferty was left out of the 16-man squad.
“I am delighted,” Smith said.
“At one stage it was unlikely that we would win.
“The first ordering off, in the context of some of the challenges that had gone before, might have been a bit harsh. The second one, young Danny misjudged the ball coming down.
“By the laws of the game at the present moment, I don't think the referee had any options than to do what he did, but there was nothing really unjust, it was the referee's opinion.
“The refereeing decisions really didn't have that much affect, maybe, if anything it woke us up a little bit because we hadn't been at our best prior to both of them.
“It was a strange game. St Mirren were the better side up until the time that we had Kevin Thomson ordered off.
“Then we proceeded to have our best spell of the game until young Danny got sent off.
“Once we went down to nine, I felt it was a matter of trying to hold on, but we managed to break away and it was a terrific cross from Steven Naismith and a terrific header by Kenny Miller for the goal and then we managed to hold on.
“I'm really pleased for all the boys who put in a lot of work.
“We would have settled for extra-time and penalties after going down to nine men.
“Obviously once you score and get in front you always hope that you hold on so we managed to do that.”
Smith put the victory near the top of his long list of achievements in two spells in charge of Rangers.
He said: “The unlikely circumstances will make it up there among the best of them.
“You think when you have been in the game for a long time that you have encountered most things, but I have never been in a final where we have been down to nine men and managed to come out winning.
“It is a fantastic achievement.”
RANGERS: Alexander, Whittaker, Weir, Wilson, Papac, Davis, McCulloch, Thomson, Novo, Boyd, Miller. Subs: McGregor, Edu, Naismith, Beasley, Smith.
ST MIRREN: Gallacher, Ross, Potter, Mair, Barron, Brady, Murray, Thomson, Carey, Mehmet, Higdon. Subs: Howard, O'Donnell, Dargo, Robb, Dorman.
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland).