Wednesday, February 03, 2010


By Lisa Gray, Press Association Sport Chief Scottish Football Writer

Rangers manager Walter Smith believes their impressive record in domestic cup competitions is simply down to respect for the opposition.
The Ibrox side have lost just one cup tie - the Co-operative Insurance Cup final against Celtic last year - since Smith returned for a second spell at the helm in January 2007.
On Wednesday night they will attempt to maintain that form when they face St Johnstone in the last four of the League Cup, with a meeting with St Mirren in the final at Hampden next month up for grabs for the winners.
"I don't think there is any secret to it," said Smith of his record in cup clashes.
"We always try and show each of the teams we are playing a level of respect. St Johnstone deserve it, as do St Mirren, who we are playing in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
"We've always been up for most of the games. In the year we reached the UEFA Cup final, we were having to play semi-finals, big games, in amongst a whole load of other huge games but we still managed to dig out a result. Hopefully we can continue to do that."
Rangers romped to a 3-0 win over St Johnstone in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League in December but Smith is well aware that previous meetings have not been quite as comfortable for his side.
Saints put up a decent fight in the Scottish Cup 12 months ago before succumbing to a 2-0 defeat, while Smith's men required penalties to dispose of the McDiarmid Park side in the semi-final of the same competition the year before.
"They have been tricky for us," admitted the Rangers boss.
"Derek McInnes has done a great job there with a group of players who have a good attitude about them.
"He uses his players very well and they have played very well against us in the games they have played us. So we have had that warning and, being a cup tie, it will be a big game.
"We've managed to reach each of the domestic finals that we've managed to compete in over the last three years.
"It's a big thing for us to get to the final but, equally, St Johnstone, with the way they have played against us this season, will see an opportunity to get there themselves.
"That would be a huge thing for them so we know what we are going to face and we should be equal to that."
Rangers' priority may be retaining the SPL title but, according to skipper David Weir, they are also desperate to claim the first silverware of the campaign.
He said: "It's very important. It's the first trophy available during the season. At Rangers you want to be in finals and you want to be winning finals.
"Obviously, along the way, you've got to win the games to get there. We know it will be a very tough game, St Johnstone are always hard to beat.
"They are very well-organised and have given us a couple of tough games already this season. We know we will have to be at our best."


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