It may well be that Rangers would have dug out the three points whatever the curious calls from Collum. It is what the Ibrox men do under Michael Beale, regardless of the sometimes underwhelming nature of their performances. After all, the 2-0 win over St Johnstone snared him a ninth victory in his 10 game tenure, the other outing a draw with Celtic. Yet, that fact should not deflect from Collum’s erratic, oddities abounding that appeared to extend to the (mis)application of VAR.
The handball penalty decision that allowed the home team to go a goal up inside 15 minutes with another James Tavernier conversion, was one of those…well, aren’t the rules all so opaque. James Brown’s arm was up when a clip into the box grazed Connor Goldson’s shoulder and made contact with it, but you have to ask how at fault the full-back could possibly have been when the ball deflected from a mere yard in front of him.
Collum, though, became centre of attention with his red card decisions that reduced the Perth side to 10 men in the 34th minute for a Nicky Clark clash with Ryan Jack, but allowed Jack to escape with a yellow card for a crude challenge on Adam Montgomery four minutes later. On the first, repeated viewings seemed to show - as a dismayed St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson surmised afterwards - Clark inadvertently made contact with the Rangers midfielder, subsequent to skimming the ball, as a consequence of Jack thrusting towards him. Beale revealed his player had a gash on his shin from the collision - wherein there was no real force, and no intent - but it does not follow this made it a sending off offence. Weirdly, Collum didn’t brandish red immediately but after a few minutes delay. The Ibrox screens then confirmed VAR had arrived at the same conclusion, an intervention that seemed out of keeping with the normal protocols.
The turn of events proved completely at odds with what followed Jack steaming in to catch Adam Montgomery on the ankle with a straight leg, late challenge. Collum showed a yellow, but VAR, with Nick Walsh manning it, asked him to consult his pitchside monitor. For reasons best known to himself, Collum did not concur a clear and obvious error had been made and stuck by his original decision.
The wonder is that St Johnstone did not crumble then, did not entirely lose focus through being consumed by rage. Instead, following on from their keeper Remi Matthews exhibiting elastic arms and legs to thwart Alfredo Morelos early on several times, in added time just before the break, they should have been level. An equaliser only eluded them as a result of Drey Wright kicking the ground when all he had to do was tap in after rounding Allan McGregor.
Rangers, with new signing Todd Cantwell looking lively and accomplished, made them pay when the arrival from Norwich City fired low into Morelos, who cutely stabbed the ball into the path of Glen Kamara for the midfielder - in his own postcode in the box - to slot in for a 52nd minute clincher. The loudest home roars thereafter were earned by Ianis Hagi, following a 72nd minute introduction that brought to a close a horrible 12 months sidelined with a cruciate knee ligament injury.