James Tavernier believes Rangers' remarkable clean sheet record holds the key to their hopes of silverware this season
He is Rangers’ top scorer with 10 goals so far in their as yet unbeaten 2020-21 campaign – but James Tavernier is more proud of his role in Scottish football’s meanest defence.
Tavernier scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot as Rangers edged past Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday to move nine points clear of Celtic at the top of the Premiership, having now played two games more than the defending champions.
The Ibrox side had to withstand a late rally from Kilmarnock to see out another precious victory, duly extending an outstanding run of defensive performances since the season began. Rangers have now kept 15 clean sheets in 18 matches in all competitions – 11 of them in their 13 league fixtures.
"It was nice to see another one go in the back of the net,” said Rangers captain Tavernier after his sixth successful penalty conversion to complement the four goals he has scored from open play.
"I just keep working hard on taking the pens on the training pitch. I’m delighted with the record from the spot but I’m more delighted with the 15 clean sheets we’ve now kept.
"We are delighted to get the three points. It wasn’t really the performance we wanted to put in but Rugby Park is a tough place to come. In previous years, Kilmarnock have taken points off us so we’re delighted to get the win and the clean sheet.
“Allan McGregor pulled off a fantastic save towards the end of the game but we limited them to very few chances and had to work well as a defensive unit to do that.
“Coming off a European win against Lech Poznan last Thursday night, the weekend domestic game is always going to be tough.
“So to get the three points, the clean sheet, we couldn’t have asked for anymore.
“We know there’s room for improvement in the way we play but we showed another side to our game – how resilient we can be, as well as how good we can play.
"We know these games were the speed bumps that affected us last season. It’s about making sure we don’t make the same mistakes, treating each game as a final and trying to get maximum points every time we play.”
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