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Kiernan in 'punch' row as Rangers fall further behind

St Johnstone 1 Rangers 1

By Andy Newport

St Johnstone defender Steven Anderson reckons Rob Kiernan is heading for a ban after accusing his Rangers rival of punching him. Anderson claims the Ibrox defender aimed a jab at his ribs during last night's 1-1 draw at McDiarmid Park.

The flash point just before half-time came moments after Kiernan blundered to hand Saints their equaliser.

But Saints skipper Anderson believes his opponent could end up in even deeper trouble if Scottish Football Association compliance officer Tony McGlennan decides to take action.

Kiernan, though, will be free to face Celtic in Saturday's Old Firm showdown regardless of what happens, with McGlennan not due to return from his festive break until after the New Year celebrations.

But Anderson warned: "If that's the way he wants to play then it's up to him - but he is going to get done for it.

"It was a corner and he caught me in the ribs. Brian Easton saw it as well. It was a clear punch on me.

"You can't do that in football games.

"I'm not too bothered but if it gets highlighted then he deserves it.

"There was nothing that happened before it. I was marking him at a corner and there was a bit of argy bargy - then he punched me.

"The referee said he did not see it and you can understand it because there was a lot going on in the box. The linesman has probably not seen it either."

Gers boss Mark Warburton insisted he did not see the incident but refused to point the finger of blame at Fulham target Kiernan (right) after his part in Steven MacLean's leveller.

Barrie McKay had fired Gers ahead after pouncing on Zander Clark's spill 23 minutes in.

But Kiernan undercooked a back-pass to his own goalkeeper Wes Foderingham five minutes later, allowing MacLean to fire into an empty net.

Warburton - whose side remain in second place but now drop 16 points behind Brendan Rodgers' rampant leaders ahead of the Hogmanay derby duel - said: "It was a mistake. We are all human. Find me someone who is perfect. The reaction is about how does Rob Kiernan respond to the mistake?

"Does he shy away from the ball? Does he shy away from tackles? No he didn't, so all credit to Rob.

"As long as he learns from the mistake, as we all must do, then I have no problem with him making it."

Rangers were without skipper Lee Wallace after he limped off injured against Inverness and Warburton admits he may not feature against Celtic.

He said: "Lee was out on the training pitch today, doing light work.

"He's got a tight hamstring. It will be touch and go, no doubt about that.

"Fingers crossed, because he's our skipper and a very influential player. He has been outstanding.

"I wouldn't risk him. I wouldn't risk anyone. The health and welfare of the players is always paramount.

"Someone asked me if I could risk him because we have a three-week break after Saturday, but absolutely not.

"Clint Hill also came off but that was an impact injury, more of a dead leg type. He is a quick healer, so touch wood we can get him ready.

"Lee Hodson came on tonight and we have enough quality in reserve if required."

Rangers saw the momentum of four straight wins interrupted by a Saints side who maintain their unbeaten record so far in December and are now three points off fourth-placed Hearts, who have played a game more.

St Johnstone: Clark, Foster, Easton, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Wotherspoon (Swanson 78), Alston (Scobbie 44), Millar (Craig 69), Paton, MacLean, Cummins.

Goals: MacLean 28 Subs not used: Mannus, Watson, Kane, Hunter.

Rangers: Foderingham, Wilson, Hill (Hodson 66), Kiernan, Tavernier, Halliday, Holt, Windass, McKay, Garner (Waghorn 62), Miller (O’Halloran 81)

Goals: McKay 23 Subs not used: Gilks, Senderos, Crooks, Forrester.

Man of the match: MacLean

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Crawford Allan

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