Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Rangers boss Smith unhappy with Celtic's referee complaint

Walter Smith accused the anonymous Celtic source who this week revealed the club's unhappiness with the performance of referees this season of putting unnecessary pressure on Dougie McDonald ahead of today's crucial Old Firm derby.

And the Rangers boss has called for the club to be open about any grievances they have with match officials rather than hiding behind anonymous leaks.

The source claimed Celtic felt a number of decisions had gone against them - including in the last two games against Rangers.

However, Smith praised McDonald's performance in the clash at Ibrox, which the Scottish champions won thanks to a last-gasp winner from Maurice Edu.

"I thought the referee handled the game very well today," said Smith.

"It was always going to be an awkward situation and it was a totally unfair circumstance he was placed in this week.

"The Old Firm games are always awkward, everybody comes under scrutiny. You always argue with the refereeing decisions, it doesn't matter what anybody says.

"But it would be nice, if somebody was going to criticise the referee, that they come out the closet and do it rather than do it in an anonymous manner."

Smith had refused to comment on the revelations from the Celtic camp when quizzed in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

And, when asked about his decision to speak out now, he said: "There was enough pressure on the referee without anybody else bringing it up."

Edu had a goal disallowed within seconds of replacing the injured Lee McCulloch but did managed to grab the decisive goal deep into injury time.

The win allowed Rangers to restore their 10-point advantage at the summit of the Clydesdale bank Premier League, with a game in hand still to be played.

However, Smith refused to to be drawn on suggestions that the title race is now effectively over.

He said: "When you start making assumptions like that, you start to disregard the other teams that you play. It's a step forward for us."

As well as Edu's disallowed strike, the other controversial moment in the match was a straight red card for Celtic skipper Scott Brown following a tussle with Kyle Lafferty.

"I'll need to do an Arsene Wenger on the red card because I missed our goal that was disallowed and I missed the ordering-off as well," said Smith.

"On one occasion, I was making my way back upstairs [to the stand] and the other I was on the way back down. So I missed it and I've got absolutely no comment to make on either."

Allan McGregor started in goal for Rangers a week after sustaining injuries in an attack while on a night out in Glasgow and was singled out for abuse by Celtic fans for much of the match.

Smith praised the controversial figure but felt Hoops number one Artur Boruc deserved some of the plaudits too.

"I felt both goalkeepers played very well today and did what they were asked to do," he said.

"Allan McGregor had a terrific save from Robbie Keane in the first half of the game and I thought Artur Boruc's save from Sasa Papac was a fantastic one late in game. Both goalkeepers did well.

"Both have shared the headlines in the last period of time, although Artur seems to have calmed down a bit in comparison to our own goalie."

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