STEVIE SMITH believes the two first-half goals Rangers conceded in today’s Scottish Cup clash against Dundee United were suckerpunch blows and they gave his side a mountain to climb.

The Light Blues put in plenty of effort and graft throughout the opening 45 minutes but lapses in concentration allowed Stuart Armstrong to beat Steve Simonsen before Gary Mackay-Steven did the same with a deflected shot.

But Ally McCoist’s players never let their head go down and Smith’s superb free kick five minutes before the break lifted the roof of the stadium and kept Rangers’ hopes of progressing to the final alive.

Unfortunately a mistake from stand-in goalkeeper Simonsen allowed Nadir Cifti to net a crucial third goal for the Tangerines eight minutes from time but Smith was more frustrated with the earlier goals that had put United in a strong position in the tie.

He said: “We’re disappointed, it was a chance for us to get to a cup final but credit to Dundee United they came and did a job on us. We have to accept it and move on.

“It’s just decision making, we gave them two goals of a start and I don’t think you can do that any level. Once that happens it’s very difficult to come back and they were always a threat on the counter attack.

“But we believe in ourselves and we believed we could come here today and win the game. I don’t pay attention to what people say and I don’t know what has been said but one thing you can’t criticise is our effort, we gave everything we could. We lost poor goals and we were punished, that’s the bottom line.

“I don’t even think last week (in the Ramsdens Cup Final) there was a lack of effort,  I think if we score the first goal we win the game as well.

“But the two games are gone now and although we’re disappointed we’ve just got to try and focus on the next game.

“It will probably take us a couple of days to get over this because we put a lot in but we’ve just got to move on.”

Scoring his second free-kick of the season was scant consolation for the gutted defender after the final whistle. He added: “I would rather someone else had scored and we had won the game to be honest with you.

“It doesn’t really interest me, we just need to pick ourselves up in the morning.”

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