Furious Rangers boss Steven Gerrard told John Beaton he was “out of order” after being sent off following a half-time bust-up with the official at Livingston.
The Light Blues boss reacted with outrage when Beaton booked Alfredo Morelos for a penalty box dive despite Livi keeper Max Stryjek clearly clipping the Colombian as he hit the deck just before the break at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Gerrard then let rip at the referee as he marched onto the field to confront him – with Beaton responding by flashing two yellow cards.
Gerrard was picked up by TV microphones ranting: “You were f****** bang wrong. You’re bang out of order.”
And he repeated his words after watching from the stand as his side snatched a 1-0 win with Morelos’ 87th-minute winner – which leaves them just four points from title glory.
“It’s a blatant penalty, it’s a stonewaller,” he said. “I’m someone who wants to support officials because we are all human and we will make a mistake.
“But what I can’t stand for at this level is three people making the same mistake. They all had clear views of it. I could see it and I’m the furthest away.
“There are three officials at this level who all got it wrong together – I can’t have that. I asked for an explanation and he refused to speak to me. I think I’m entitled to a conversation but obviously not.
“You are talking about officials at a top level of the game.
“The linesman is looking straight at it with nothing in his way. The fourth official is looking straight at it with nothing in his way, because I was behind him and I could see it clear. And the referee is right on top of him.
“I’ll go with a mistake from one of them but not three. It’s not right, it’s not fair. It’s a stonewaller and it’s bang out of order.”
Gerrard now faces an Old Firm sweat.
The matter does not fall under the Scottish Football Association’s fast-track procedures so there is no set deadline for Hampden disciplinary chiefs to decide how long a punishment to hand out.
With Rangers potentially set for a Premiership title party when they head to Celtic Park on March 21, Gerrard could be forced to watch the celebrations from the stand if his case is decided early.
But he said: “I’m not worried. I’m looking forward to beating St Mirren. That’s my only worry. If someone wants to stop me being on the side of a pitch, don’t worry – I’ll celebrate when the time comes.”
Morelos passed up a couple of decent chances to make the breakthrough in the second period but popped up at the end to net the winner when Stryjek spilled Steven Davis’ shot, sparking wild celebrations with his team-mates.
Gerrard added: “That’s what top strikers do, they are in the right place at the right time. I thought at one point it wasn’t going to be his night but, credit to him, he never gave up.
“The team showed really good patience. We stuck with it and we have shown all season that we are not going to go away. We are three points closer to where we want to be – we are so close now.”
Livi boss David Martindale could not fault his beaten Betfred Cup finalists as they suffered fresh pain just four days on from their Hampden heartache.
And he could understand Gerrard’s furious outburst at the interval.
“We got away with one in the first half so I could understand Steven Gerrard’s reaction, of course I could,” he said.
“I’d have been the same. Your emotions are high. They’re chasing title 55 and haven’t won it for 10 years.
“John didn’t mean to make a bad decision but your emotions take over and I can understand 100 per cent his frustrations.
“The performance was there from the boys, they were fantastic up until Rangers scored the winner.
“You won’t dominate the ball against the Glasgow clubs, especially Rangers who have been fantastic, so you have to go in with a gameplan.
“It worked for 95 per cent of the game as we forced them into a lot of long, straight balls. It worked to a certain degree and we made a few chances ourselves.”