By George Overhill

21st Jan, 2023 | 9:10pm

Michael Stewart reacts as Rangers escape penalty in win at St Johnstone

Rangers would have conceded a penalty for a foul by Ryan Kent if St Johnstone’s James Brown had gone to ground, according to Michael Stewart.

During the first half of a scrappy affair at McDiarmid Park, which ended 1-0 to the Light Blues thanks to Borna Barisic’s excellently taken goal, Brown stayed on his feet in the box when coming into contact with Kent.

Stewart believes there was contact that would have seen a penalty given if the home defender had gone down, while Ally McCoist admitted it saved the referee a decision.

Speaking live at half-time of the Viaplay match coverage (21 January, 6.27pm) McCoist said of the penalty incident: “[Brown] does the referee and Rangers a favour, and fair play to him for not going down. If he does go down there’s a decision to be made. It might not be a penalty but a decision has to be made.”

Stewart added: “Had he gone down I think it would have been a penalty. But there’s nothing Ryan Kent can do when you’re an attacker like that and you cut across the face of the defender, it’s impossible for defenders to do anything other than collide with the opponent.

“I think Ryan Kent’s left foot just catches James Brown’s left foot. Fortunately for Rangers he stayed on his feet and made it an easy decision for the referee not to do anything.”

Fine margins

It is the age old paradox that fans all hate diving but referees seem to require players to go down to give decisions, but Rangers supporters won’t mind on this occasion.

It would have been a soft one had it been given and no doubt Chris Sutton has some choice views on the subject, but it wouldn’t have been a shock if Alan Muir had pointed to the spot.

The Bears were just about good value for the win with a performance that didn’t light up the cup but did enough to maintain their defence of the trophy.

Barisic’s goal was wonderfully taken after strong work from Malik Tillman and Fashion Sakala, while Connor Goldson went extremely close to a second after the break.

Alfredo Morelos should have done better with more than one chance as well as the visitors looked to have created enough for the win, but James Tavernier was still needed for a late goal line clearance so a potential first half penalty might have made the game different.

Michael Beale is still unbeaten since his return to Ibrox, and with new signings now coming in the situation is looking far more impressive than it did six weeks ago.

In other Rangers news, another new arrival appears to be imminent with full agreement expected and the medical complete.