JIMMY Nicholl said his Rangers players showed more patience than him as the Light Blues picked up three crucial points with a late win over Kilmarnock.

A David Bates goal in the 85th minute at Ibrox kept the Gers in the hunt for second place and their quest for Europe. Aberdeen and Hibernian both dropped points with a goalless draw at Pittodrie.

It was interim boss Nicholl’s first game in charge since taking the reins over and he admits he found it hard not to rush his team with the clock ticking.

Speaking to RangersTV Nicholl said:

“That’s a great win; it wasn’t looking like it for a long time. There was a lot of pressure on them in the final third and crosses across the face of the six yard box and nobody on the end of it; I thought it is never going to happen.

“The strange thing was their keeper never had a save to make and they nearly scored a couple of own goals. Then Jak pulled off the save of the match, it was a brilliant wee reaction save.

“The boys showed a lot of patience, because I was more anxious than them on the touchline, I just wanted them to do things quicker and with a wee bit more urgency.

“They kept patience and they kept possession and worked their opening, then it came from a quality cross into the box for young David Bates to get his head on the end of it.

“I love that when he is going in there with a bit of determination, sometimes you go in and think it is just a token vesture but he went in with the drive to score a goal.

“This win keeps us in it, it was a massive three points for us with them two drawing as well.

“It is only the first leg of a triple and we have to go up there on Tuesday night and beat Aberdeen, we’ve got to. It is going to be right down to the wire and we have to go to Hibs in the last game.

“We have got ourselves in this position because of games which we have lost here at Ibrox but it is what it is. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to do it.”

Nicholl took over alongside Jonatan Johansson on Tuesday when Graeme Murty was relieved of his duties as first-team manager and the Northern Irishman admits it has been a difficult week to manage.

He continued: “The whole feeling at the end was relief, it has been a difficult week and that three points keeps you in it.

“This is three times I have been an interim manager and you’re never interim manager because your mate who you have been working with has gone on to bigger and better things. It is always because, unfortunately, he has lost his job and that is what happened on Tuesday.

“As the week has gone on you hope things get a wee bit better, the atmosphere about the place and there were a few players hurting, I could tell.

“You don’t put any demands on them right away, you are hoping they start getting their football head back on as the days go on and then you realise there is a game of football we have to win at the weekend. You have to make decisions you think are right to win a game of football.”

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