STEVE Cotterill forced himself to bite his tongue, rather than cop another FA rap for lambasting hapless ref Nigel Miller.

Miller, a police sergeant, laid down his own peculiar law at Loftus Road with three penalty decisions that all went the way of the home side.

But Cotterill opted to concentrate on his own side's inconsistencies following the 3-0 defeat, which came just days after the Carling Cup heroics against Aston Villa in midweek.

Cotterill, who agreed with most reporters' beliefs that Miller called all the penalty decisions incorrectly, said: "I have to be careful what I say, but I think we could have had two penalties before they had theirs and absolutely nothing was going to go our way.

"People have seen everything else with their own eyes, but I have an FA hearing in a couple of weeks and I would prefer to talk about the things we can control.

"We can't control what other people do, but we can control what we do and we started it with our own downfall.

"For the opening 25 minutes we know we can do a whole lot better. But that was as poor as we have been and, by that time, it was game over I'm afraid."

Cotterill had a ringside seat for a horror show from Durham official Miller, who refused Robbie Blake a shout for an early penalty, then awarded a soft spot kick against the visitors when Graham Branch tussled with George Santos at the other end.

Miller completed a hapless hat-trick of decisions minutes later, waving play on after looking ready to blow for a penalty after Branch was hauled down as he shaped to shoot.

To cap a miserable day for Burnley, goalkeeper Danny Coyne was stretchered off after falling awkwardly in the move leading to the third goal, while Graham Branch and Jean Louis Valois both limped off nursing injuries.

Cotterill admitted: "Things couldn't really have got any worse.

"We lost Graham, Danny and Jean Louis, who was our best player, so I suppose I just have to write this off.

"I didn't speak to the lads after the game because there was no point in saying anything to them!

"What am I going to say to change the day and make them feel better ... absolutely nothing.

"They wouldn't have learned anything if I'd had a go at them because they were that down.

"They would have been just remembering their own individual performances and getting nothing from my words.

"Sometimes, even when they do well, you address them another day when reminding them of the things they did well. So it was a lot easier for me to just shut up!"

RANGERS boss Ian Holloway reckoned his side got the benefit of crucial decisions that shaped their victory.

Holloway said: "I'm still a little bit shell-shocked at how things went for us.

"One of my staff was the only one who shouted 'penalty' when George went up for the header early on.

"For me though, five or ten minutes earlier it looked as though they should have had one too, so if I was Steve I wouldn't be very happy.

"He sets his stall out to be hard to break down and that first goal shook his team.

"Before you know it, we have scored from another free kick and it was a bit surreal after that.

"Our crowd were singing 'you might as well go home', while if I was Steve I would feel a little aggrieved at the referee.

"It was so surreal, even the corner flags were falling over. I thought I'd seen everything, but even the corner flags were trying to get something off the referee by diving down!"

Holloway, whose side chalked up a fifth straight home league win in controversial circumstances, despite being by far the better team, added: "I felt our attitude and appetite was right.

"We knew it was going to be tough because of the number of games they have drawn this year, so we talked about putting them under pressure as early as we could.

"But I also felt Burnley didn't give a performance as well as they did in midweek against Aston Villa.

"It looked like the same players trying to do it again, but sometimes that's difficult."



DANNY COYNE: Sad sight to see the Welshman carried off after his mistake for the third goal.


MO CAMARA: Nothing got past him down the right, but equally posed few problems at the other end.


JOHN McGREAL: Ran a running battle with Furlong that should have seen both men booked.


FRANK SINCLAIR: Never really settled on his return to the side and booked in stoppage time.


MICHAEL DUFF: A fifth booking means a second ban of the season for the right back.


TONY GRANT: Broke up countless Rangers moves and kept his passing nice and simple.


MICAH HYDE: One to forget for the Jamaican, who lost the battle in the middle of the park.


GRAHAM BRANCH: Involved in crucial penalty decisions at both ends of the pitch - winning neither!


LEE ROCHE: Tried valiantly to get something going down the right, but by then the damage was done.


JEAN-LOUIS VALOIS: Carried on from Tuesday with another great display before suffering hamstring trouble.


ROBBIE BLAKE: Perhaps unlucky not to earn a penalty, but little else went right for the skipper.


SUBS: JAMES O'CONNOR (for Branch 19) Promising start, BRIAN JENSEN (for Coyne 25) Steady enough. 7, RICHARD CHAPLOW (for Valois 70) Improved things. 7.

Not used: Richard Duffy, Amadou Sanokho


JEAN LOUIS VALOIS: Showed some nice touches and improved on his back-tracking to please the boss.


No contest! Referee Nigel Miller was inconsistency personified with a string of contentious decisions.


The early decisions shaped the contest, but Burnley were slow out of the blocks.