Rangers saw their Premiership title hopes suffer another serious setback after they were held to a goalless draw by Dundee. Philippe Clement’s side are now three points behind Old Firm rivals Celtic having played the same number of fixtures in the top flight.

Clement expressed his confidence that his side would bounce back from their shock defeat to Ross County on Sunday. But this was another appalling showing from a team that had looked to be favourites to lift the trophy just a couple of weeks ago.

Wretched Rangers get what they deserve

The boos at the final blow of Don Robertson’s whistle summed up the first half for Rangers. As Clement’s side made their way up the tunnel, the fans behind the goal and in the main stand attempted to cajole and encourage them. It was the roar of a support that knew the title was on the line over the course of the next 45 minutes.

Rangers could have broken the deadlock but Dundee were not exactly under siege. Abdallah Sima forced Jon McCracken into action with a low effort on the angle. McCracken did well to turn a James Tavernier free-kick to safety, but Connor Goldson should have scored after winning a header from the corner that followed. A Tom Lawrence strike late on was ballooned high over the bar.

As the clock ticked away, the hope faded. Rangers had half an hour to save their season, then 15 minutes. Soon, time was up. McCracken saved well from Cyriel Dessers and Tavernier fired over from a free-kick but Dundee were not exactly under an onslaught. Rangers were desperate in more ways than one. The reaction from the stands said it all. Rangers got a point that is largely irrelevant. They didn’t deserve any more from this one.

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Title bid is all but over for Clement

The situation that Clement inherited was not of his making. He walked into a changing room that housed a squad that didn’t look like potential challengers, never mind potential champions. So much good work and so much hard work was done to alter that position but the defeats to Motherwell and Ross County and missed opportunity against Celtic changed the narrative and the needs. This one was a must-win. Now that it hasn’t been, Clement is left to pick up the pieces.

He will continue to speak of one game at a time, but it is now surely a matter of when rather than if Celtic secure the Premiership title. This is not a side that are capable of winning the five post-split fixtures, including one at Parkhead. When the going has been tough, Rangers have crumbled. Once again, they only have themselves to blame.

The Scottish Cup gives Clement’s side a chance to salvage something from the end of the season. Two cup wins would represent success, of sorts, for the Belgian. No league flag means this term will go down as another failure, though. Too many of these players have failed too often. Another clear-out now beckons.

Pitch concerns were unfounded in the end

This has been the most talked about surface in Scottish football over the last month. At the third time of asking, Rangers were finally able to play a must-win game here. Clement had insisted his side would play on Mars if they had to. Thankfully, the surface wasn’t as rutted as the Red Planet might have been and it actually looked in decent condition upon arrival. That process was helped with some green paint to make the park more presentable for the Sky Sports cameras.

The goalmouth to the left was more worn and sandier than the one at the opposite end of the ground, while an area in midfield wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been previously. It wasn’t exactly lush and didn’t play straight and true all the time but it was a lot better than it could have been. Perseverance did indeed pay off. Dundee saw fit to make light of the situation, too. A series of water-themed songs – including ‘Why Does it Always Rain on Me?’ – were played over the PA system. At the break, the announcer conducted the draw from ‘the shallow end’. At least they saw the funny side.

Rangers Review:

Roofe experiment doesn’t pay off

The Clement selection was always going to be interesting. Would he stick or would he twist? In the end, it was something in between as three changes were made from the County calamity. Dujon Sterling started at left-back, Lawrence came into the midfield and Kemar Roofe got the nod to lead the line. This was his first start since the fixture at home to St Johnstone back in December when he was forced off inside the opening quarter of an hour.

If Clement could mould a forward that had all the good bits of Roofe, Dessers and Fabio Silva, he would have quite the No.9 on his hands. Unfortunately, he has to deal with three that are far from perfect in their own ways. The service to Roofe in the first half may not have been the best but he offered very little and he looked like a forward who was short of match sharpness.

Roofe didn’t see the hour mark. Dessers was introduced at the same time as Kieran Dowell replaced Todd Cantwell and Rabbi Matondo took Silva’s spot on the left. It was an acknowledgement that it wasn’t working for Clement. The plan had failed to that stage. It didn’t work after that, either. Rangers were devoid of quality or cohesion.

Dundee expose defensive deficiencies

The warning – like it did on Sunday – arrived inside the opening minute for Rangers. It was one that they failed to respond to as Dundee ended the first half frustrated that they hadn’t opened the scoring. Clement’s side were fortunate that they were not behind for a third time in as many matches as they were once again exposed too easily and too regularly.

Clement put that down to structure and communication on Sunday and the addition of Sterling at left-back was never going to solve those issues. In midfield, John Lundstram and Lawrence didn’t offer enough protection and Rangers had no control over proceedings. The space in the phases of transition were alarming.

Amadou Bakayoko pulled a low effort narrowly wide of Jack Butland’s far post with just seconds on the clock. Dundee had targeted the right channel and Connor Goldson by knocking the ball over the top of James Tavernier. From a similar position, Jordan McGhee should arguably have done better as Butland saved well at his near post. The keeper saved his best for the phase that ended up with the ball in the back of the net as he made a terrific double save from a Luke McCowan free-kick and Scott Tiffoney effort. Thankfully for Rangers, the offside flag denied Bakayoko.

Butland was something of a spectator after the break. Rangers were there for the taking but Dundee didn’t have the moments to trouble them.