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Wobbling Rangers will hit back for Scottish Cup final decider: Mark Warburton

By Ronnie Esplin

Boss Mark Warburton admits Rangers have got 24 days to get it right for the William Hill Scottish Cup final after their 1-0 defeat at Livingston left the Ladbrokes Championship winners with one point from nine.

The champions had lost at Hibernian and drawn at home to relegated Alloa following their dramatic Scottish Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out win against old rivals Celtic at Hampden Park.

Former Light Blues defender Craig Halkett headed the home side ahead in the final minute of the first-half and ninth-placed Livingston held out for three points, ahead of their relegation play-off.

Warburton’s men conclude their league campaign with a trip to St Mirren on Sunday before preparing for the cup final against Hibs on May 21, by which time they will need to somehow find top gear again.

The Gers manager dismissed the notion that it is difficult for his side to keep momentum — saying: “that is too easy to say that” — but knows they will have to get it back for the trip to Hampden.

He said: “You can say after the Celtic game against Hibernian, you can say it was the draining nature of the game at Hampden but that was not really us.

“But no excuses. We started brightly but for the vast majority of the game we were way below par.

“We all have to look at ourselves, because that was not Rangers.

“We have 24 days to get it right, which we will do.

“But no excuses, I am not going to sit here and defend that, we didn’t deserve to get anything out of the game.

“Pressure is fighting relegation, fighting for your contract, you might get a pay-cut as a player, pressure is going out of business.

“That is not pressure. Everyone is tired, we all have had long seasons, do you feel more tired when winning the league or when fighting relegation?

“We are one department and as one department we were not good enough tonight. The positive is, we learn from that.”

Livi boss David Hopkin praised what he described as “probably the youngest ever Livi team” and will “fight tooth and nail” to keep 16-year-old Matthew Knox who made his first start and who is reportedly interesting Rangers and Manchester United.

Hopkin said: “There is a lot of clubs interested in him at the minute.

“I have spoken to the board and my preference is to keep him here for another two years.

“He has only turned 16 and he is playing against Rangers and doesn’t look out of place.

“For a young boy to play for 75 minutes at that level I thought (was) great.

“I think the board are going back me and hopefully down the road when he is ready to go he will go, but he will go a better player because he has so much talent it is frightening.”

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