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By ESPN Staff

Cup victory tempts Alexander to stay with Gers

Neil Alexander admits his Co-operative Insurance Cup final appearance may persuade him that his future is at Ibrox.

Rangers players ecstatic

The goalkeeper replaced first-choice Allan McGregor for the 1-0 Hampden victory over St Mirren after playing in each of the previous rounds.

While the victory was sweet for everyone involved with Rangers given Kenny Miller's late winner followed two red cards, Alexander perhaps enjoyed it more than anyone given his usual position is on the bench.

Walter Smith had promised Alexander he would return for the final and the former Ipswich and Cardiff goalkeeper was grateful the manager stuck to his word.

"I've been looking forward to it since the semi-final and it gives you a target to aim for,'' Alexander said. "It would have been an easy decision to put Allan in. It was such a big game and Allan has been playing week in week out.

"He showed faith in me and that shows a lot, it shows that maybe I do have a future here and the manager wants me. I'm very happy here and my family are very settled. It is frustrating and at times it's very frustrating.

"But I love being at Glasgow Rangers and it was just nice to get a game.''

Alexander has never put a foot wrong when replacing McGregor, and appeared in the UEFA Cup final in 2008, but the number one jersey always returns to his rival when fit.

"I would love my cake and eat it by playing and staying here, but we'll just have to wait and see,'' the 32-year-old added. "Today I'm really happy and I've got another medal to add to my collection.''

Alexander made a crucial contribution with a superb first-half block from Hugh Murray.

"It's tough when you have been sitting on the side week after week to come in from the cold in such a big game, because your timing goes and things maybe don't click,'' he said.

"But I felt really good in the warm-up and I'm really happy with my performance.''

The Scotland cap was anticipating taking centre stage with a penalty shoot-out after Kevin Thomson and Danny Wilson were sent off in the second half, but Kenny Miller headed home in an 84th-minute counter-attack to stun St Mirren.

"At the time you're thinking that holding on for penalties is the only way we are going to win it,'' Alexander said. "We were playing with nine men and not playing well as it is. But full credit to the lads, I think our only attack of the game and we scored.

"It was a fantastic header from Kenny Miller and it has got us out of jail. It showed great character that, when things aren't going well, we dig in and get a result. It was a major step in hopefully securing the treble.''

• St Mirren defender David Barron admitted they were naive to leave themselves open to Kenny Miller's sucker punch during their heartbreaking Co-operative Insurance Cup final defeat against nine-man Rangers.

"With them being down to nine men, it sounds a bit stupid, but it made them more resilient,'' Barron said. "They stuck together and thought 'let's get together and be hard to break down'. They just sat off and we couldn't break them down.

"The onus was on us to go and get the winner because they were down to nine men.

"We felt as if we had to attack all the time and we felt we could win it in the 90 minutes, which was maybe a bit naive because I think Rangers would have tired more than us and, if it went to extra time, we would have fancied our chances.''

Barron was so disillusioned after the final whistle that he went straight down the tunnel and had to be called back by manager Gus MacPherson to collect his loser's medal.

"I just let my emotions get the better of me,'' the 22-year-old said. "I can't really say how I felt at the end of the game, I was just gutted. Words can't describe it so there wasn't an awful lot said in the dressing-room.''

The dressing-room would have been a much more vibrant place at half-time after Hugh Murray forced a great save from Neil Alexander and Barron, who excelled in a three-man central defence, struck the bar from 25 yards.

"It was close, when it left my foot I thought 'that's got a chance' but it has just not come down quite early enough,'' Barron said. "I saw that in my dreams the night before going in, but these things happen.

"We took the game to Rangers in the first half. When it was 11 v 11, I thought we had more chance of winning. The first half we probably should have scored. You must score when you're on top against the Old Firm, and it has come back to bite us.''


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