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I had no doubts over future Rangers ace Jones, insists Kilmarnock boss

Kilmarnock 2-1 Rangers

By Andy Newport

Jordan Jones showed his loyalties still lie with Kilmarnock as he wrecked Jermain Defoe's Rangers debut by firing Steve Clarke's side to a 2-1 victory at Rugby Park.

The Northern Ireland winger is set to join Steven Gerrard's squad after signing a pre-contract earlier this month.

But he was trusted to start against the side he will be joining in the summer and repaid his manager's faith with the goal that sees Clarke's men leapfrog the Light Blues into second place.

It took Defoe just 12 minutes to open his Rangers account but it was a mostly frustrating night for the former England frontman.

The 36-year-old did not even have much time to savour his strike as a Joe Worrall blunder handed Eamonn Brophy the equaliser eight minutes later.

Having worked so hard to draw level with Celtic before the winter break, Gerrard's side now drop back to third.

Kilmarnock boss Clarke hailed "a great response" from his side.

"We defended well when we had to defend," he said. "We put in a good shift and showed a little bit of quality in the finishes as well."

On Jones, he added: "I know what Jordan is like. I work with him day in, day out. I know he is committed to Kilmarnock until the end of this season. Jordan has got himself a fantastic move but that's for next season.

"Our next ambition is to go to Aberdeen on Saturday, another tough game. I've got to freshen the boys up and get them ready. The squad is a little bit light, so if we can do something, we'll do that."

Gers chief Gerrard moaned: "I think we've created enough to win the game. Kilmarnock haven't put any combinations together or cut us open or looked like a team that were worrying us really. We looked like we were the team that were going to create the better opportunities. So that was a positive.

"But you can't win matches if you give silly gifts away. A square ball in the second half on this type of pitch is something we asked the players to avoid at all costs.

"We've been done for them to go in front. It's incredible how you can have so much control and be playing so well and with confidence and swagger and then completely lose your way. The players need to learn that even if you're playing well, you get yourself in front. You can't get over confident.

"This makes it a lot more difficult for us. The table won't look nice tonight. We'll get some criticism and rightly so. We've had an awful lot of praise three weeks ago and rightly so but tonight we weren't at it all over the pitch. We have to suck that criticism up."

Former Scotland striker Billy Dodds argued: "Kilmarnock got back into the match because of Rangers' horrendous defending. If they want to put in a challenge, they need two centre-halves."

Killie goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann spilled an Andy Halliday drive but was up quickly to block James Tavernier before another follow-up from Ryan Kent was kicked off the line by Stuart Findlay.

The ball appeared to deflect off Steven Davis' hand but Defoe did not hang about for a whistle and tapped home.

Alfredo Morelos saw a header from Kent's corner come back off the left post eight minutes later.

And from coming within an inch of being 2-0 up, Rangers suddenly found themselves pegged back after Worrall's moment of madness. The on-loan Nottingham Forrest centre-back was caught dawdling as he tried to bring the ball out from the back.

But he took his eye off the ball and Brophy stole possession before racing away to beat Allan McGregor with a cool finish.

Neither Worrall nor defensive partner Gareth McAuley looked comfortable on the plastic pitch.

Morelos used his hands to punch a Tavernier cross into the net three minutes after the restart but was not fooling referee Don Robertson, who flashed a yellow.

And just as Gerrard's team looked to be regaining their composure, another calamitous mistake cost them the points.

Kent fired the ball straight to Jones in the 66th minute and the Northern Ireland international drove 40 yards before firing home a low strike from 25 yards.

With his future manager watching on gloomily, the winger darted straight for current boss Clarke to thank him for his recent support.

Jones had angered the Killie fanbase with an ill-thought tweet when announcing his Rangers move but there were only cheers as he was replaced late on.

Belfast Telegraph

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