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Murty backs supporters as Rangers win in front of silent stands

Rangers 2 Hearts 1

By Andy Newport

Graeme Murty says the Rangers faithful were within their rights to demand "better" as his team was met with a banner protest before facing Hearts.

The Ibrox outfit were back in action for the first time since last week's humiliating 4-0 Scottish Cup drubbing by Celtic and responded with a 2-1 win over Craig Levein's side.

But that did little to mend the damage done to their relationship with their own supporters, who largely sat in silence during a 90 minutes played out in an eerie atmosphere.

Before kick-off, fan group the Union Bears unveiled a display attacking everyone from Dave King's board to Murty and his squad, reading: "No fight, no pride. Nowhere to hide. Incompetent on & off the pitch. We deserve better."

A second banner was also hoisted from the same section in the Broomloan Road Stand as the second half got under way, stating: "Mindless behind the scenes, heartless on the pitch."

There are likely to be further outpourings of frustration if Gers allow Celtic to clinch the title when they meet at Parkhead next Sunday.

But Murty hopes his players have proven they remain a united front despite the bruising aftermath of their Hampden collapse.

The Rangers boss, whose side have edged back ahead of Aberdeen into second spot, said: "The fans are fully within their rights to do what they see fit. I'd never ever go against their wishes.

"But I said to the players we had to generate an atmosphere in the changing room for ourselves.

"If we wanted something from them we needed to put on a performance and I thought there were times when we were on the brink of clicking into a high gear.

"I hope the fans saw some passion and intensity and a bit of quality. I thought the players stood up after a hard week.

"I think it shows the dressing room is united. A lot of people outwith our dressing room have said a lot of things without knowing too much.

"But we have remained focused and just concentrated on the display."

Former players and pundits have been lining up to lambast Rangers' lifeless Hampden display, but Murty was relieved to see his side get back to winning ways thanks to goals from Jason Cummings and Daniel Candeias.

"I have said all the time to you guys what these players are like," he said. "I see them every day.

"People out with our group write a lot of stuff but they don't see them every day. They only see them on match day and make wild assumptions and sweeping statements about them.

"I know the qualities of the players in that group. They were hurting last week and showed a fantastic response for themselves and the football club.

"The players can only answer (what is said) by putting in performances like they did today."

Christophe Berra pulled a goal back for Hearts before Kyle Lafferty came close to completing a fightback as he clipped the outside of the post.

But Levein admitted it was a missed chance for his side, and said: "I thought we could have won the game. I didn't feel Rangers were at their best. We assisted on many occasions by coughing up possession too easily."

RANGERS: Alnwick, Tavernier, McCrorie, Martin, John, Holt, Dorrans, Candeias (O'Halloran, 90+2 mins), Windass (Halliday, 76 mins), Murphy, Cummings (Morelos, 86 mins).

Subs Not Used: Hodson, Goss, Kelly, Docherty

HEARTS: McLaughlin, Souttar, Hughes (Henderson, 81 mins), Berra, Randall, Smith, Cowie, Godinho (Moore, 60 mins), Naismith, Amankwaa (Adao, 55 mins), Lafferty.

Subs Not Used: Hamilton, McDonald, Cochrane, Hamilton

Referee: Craig Thomson

Man of the match: Daniel Candeias

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