RANGERS finished the Scottish Cup clash with Dundee United at Tannadice on Saturday with just nine men on the park. Both Kal Naismith and Ian Black were given their marching orders by referee Euan Norris late on to cap a miserable day for the Ibrox club.
But, in truth, Ally McCoist's side had been a man down before the game had even kicked off. The supporters' boycott of the fifth round fixture against the SPL club, while understandable, made recording a victory virtually impossible.
When the Gers fell a goal behind after just 15 seconds, they desperately needed their full support there to lift them. But the smattering of Light Blues fans who had bought tickets were drowned out by thousands of Tangerine-clad spectators.
It was always going to be a tall order for a Rangers side currently competing in the Third Division to overcome top flight rivals away from home. But their cause in the showdown was hindered considerably by the absence of any of their followers on Tayside.
PLAYERS DID says RICHARD WILSON
THE Rangers players might have taken solace from the backing of a larger, more vociferous support, but it would not have influenced the result.
The club's supporters wanted to take a stand against the opposition that rose so vehemently against them last summer, and even if Tannadice still attracted a decent crowd, they made their feelings known.
Even so, any number of Rangers fans in the stands would not have been able to prevent the Rangers defence being so abject at Tannadice. The atmosphere was not intimidating, but the way the visitors were so hapless at the back made the occasion troubling for Rangers.
They could not respond to the heading ability of Jon Daly, or the sharp instincts of Johnny Russell, and so all the focus during the build-up on the boycott and how it might affect Rangers turned out to be irrelevant as United started racking up goals.
Rangers fans made their point, and in turn the team made its own – there is still a lot of progress to be made.