Rangers have dropped what could be another massive two points in the title race after a 2-2 draw with St. Johnstone at McDiarmid Park to make it 10 points dropped since the winter break.
The Gers made three changes from the stunning win over Braga on Thursday as Andy Halliday, Joe Aribo and Ryan Jack come into the side for Borna Barisic, Steven Davis and Glen Kamara.
Niko Katic almost fired the Gers into the lead after just two minutes when James Tavernier’s free-kick fell for the Croatian but he could only fire into the side netting.
The popular defender was to blame six minutes later when Callum Hendry gave the hosts the lead when the youngster out-muscled Katic chasing down Stevie May’s flick before putting the ball through Allan McGregor’s legs.
Saints had a chance to make it two soon afterwards when Connor Goldson made a mess of things, allowing Butcher to rob him but his shot was well saved by McGregor.
Rangers tried to launch something resembling a fight-back and Ryan Jack stung Zander Clark’s palms with a powerful strike from distance that the Saints keeper could only turn away for a corner kick.
The Gers looked far too passive on the ball and lacked any sort of cutting edge to break the home side’s defence down, spending much of the opening 25 minutes scrapping in midfield for possession.
After the heroics of midweek against Braga, Gerrard’s side were very quickly looking like losing any goodwill the stunning comeback win had gained them with the fans as they huffed and puffed in Perth.
As the half-hour approached, the Gers started to look a bit livelier and Joe Aribo almost set up Arfield for the equaliser, although it proved concerning as the Canadian required treatment after being hurt by Jason Kerr’s challenge.
Alfredo Morelos was next to try his luck when he got on the end of Tavernier’s cross but his shot was blocked by a last-ditch tackle as the hosts clung on to the lead.
The Gers continued to push for parity and almost had it with five minutes until the break when Tavernier’s effort was cleared off the line before Morelos and Arfield both went close before referee Willie Collum brought the half to an end.
After a disappointing first 45, Gerrard turned to his bench at the break and introduced Flo Kamberi for Andy Halliday with Joe Aribo slotting into left-back.
Four minutes later Kamberi made the impact Gerrard wanted when he fired a screamer beyond Clark from Tavernier’s cross.
The on-loan forward fired a stunning volley into the top corner from the edge of the penalty box, leaving Clark helpless and drawing Rangers level.
Kent had tried to get on the end of Tavernier’s enticing ball but couldn’t quite get to it before it sat up beautifully for Kamberi to lash home.
The goal looked as though it was going to spark Rangers into another comeback win and the Light Blues started to find themselves having more chances to get at the St. Johnstone defence.
Kamberi came close to adding a second on 70 minutes when he hammered a shot at Clark before he turned provider shortly afterwards.
He sold Kerr a dummy to leave himself the freedom of the left flank before sliding in Aribo who tucked the ball home to complete the comeback.
Kamberi’s introduction changed the game for Rangers and he must surely have played his way into the starting XI on Wednesday against Braga.
There was a quick double change by the Gers soon after Aribo’s strike as Steve Davis came on to replace Morelos before Greg Stewart took over from Hagi.
St. Johnstone set up a frantic final ten minutes when they quickly grabbed an equaliser after more poor defending by Rangers.
The Light Blues failed to clear a corner and Stevie May popped up to slam the ball home, with the Gers defence looking on hopelessly.
Gerrard’s side threw everything forward in search of the third goal as news filtered through Celtic had gone behind at home to Kilmarnock.
The four minutes added time felt like an eternity as Rangers were virtually camped on the edge of the Saints area but it wasn’t to be as the Gers’ title hopes looked to be over.
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Halliday (Kamberi 46′), Jack, Arfield, Aribo, Kent, Hagi (Stewart 78′), Morelos (Davis 75′)
Subs not used: Foderingham, Edmundson, Ojo, Barker