THIS could have been the great escape for Rangers. Instead, every Tom, Dick and Harry will surely accept that Steven Gerrard’s side now won’t win the Premiership title this term.

Rangers came from behind to lead against St Johnstone but the last twist in their four-goal encounter will be the final one in the top flight race. For the third away game in succession, Gerrard saw his side lose more priceless points.

Florian Kamberi and Joe Aribo thought they had salvaged it for Rangers, thought they had kept their slim silverware hopes alive. But when Stevie May snatched a point for the Saints those ambitions were killed off for Rangers.

Losing on the road to Hearts and Aberdeen, and being held at home by Aberdeen, had put Rangers firmly on the back foot. There is now no way back and Celtic won’t be caught.

The high of victory over Braga was blown in 90 largely abject minutes at McDiarmid Park. If the Europa League recovery job isn’t completed on Wednesday night, the Scottish Cup will be all that will remain for Gerrard in his second term at Ibrox.

As Rangers have toiled domestically in recent weeks, the search for answers has seen various theories raised and discussed. Everything from Gerrard’s tactics to the mentality of his players was raised as a possible reason for their slump in form but individual mistakes have been at the heart of most of their issues.

Too many of Gerrard’s main men have been out of form and making uncharacteristic errors and Rangers were once again masters of their own downfall as St Johnstone took the lead after just eight minutes.

The finish from Callum Hendry as he slid the ball underneath Allan McGregor and into the far corner took plenty of composure. But the build-up to it was comical from Rangers’ perspective as simple balls weren’t dealt with and Nikola Katic was outmuscled and hit the deck.

Just seconds later, Connor Goldson was fortunate to get away with a stumble as May nicked possession. When the ball fell to Matt Butcher, McGregor had to make a smart low save to prevent Rangers falling two goals behind.

The Gers was careless in possession and second to too many balls. On a bumpy, bobbly and sandy surface, St Johnstone really ought to have capitalised on their visitors’ haplessness.

There was anxiousness around the three stands that housed the away support when Rangers tried to play out and the Saints attacked. Rangers didn’t look comfortable at all, but they were let off as Jamie McCart scooped an effort over the bar and David Wotherspoon fired high and harmlessly into the stand from a promising position.

Rangers had their chances too, but St Johnstone defended resolutely as Jason Kerr denied Scott Arfield and Alfredo Morelos with last-gasp challenges. Ryan Jack had seen a dipping effort tipped over by Zander Clark but Rangers were too often hesitant to take a gamble and try their luck from range.

When they got closer to target, James Tavernier’s strike from a couple of yards out rebounded around the area and McCart found himself in the right place to clear any remaining danger.

Rangers were – not for the first time this term – booed off the park at the break and Gerrard once again faced a huge team talk. He switched Aribo to left-back as Kamberi replaced Andy Halliday and Arfield fired over the bar just after the restart.

The Albanian international was perhaps unfortunate not to earn a start in Perth but he made quite an impact on his introduction. As a Tavernier cross fell just inside the area, Kamberi swung his right boot and made a perfection connection as the ball flew beyond Clark and into the top corner of the net.

It shouldn’t have taken this long, but Rangers had found their spark. Tavernier should have scored at the back post, while Morelos was denied by Clark on the angle.

Rangers had more purpose about them with two through the middle but St Johnstone still carried a threat of their own. The game was there to be won, but neither ultimately could.

Gerrard had McGregor to thank as he made a terrific stop with his foot after May flicked on Anthony Ralston’s low cross. When Rangers broke, the move twice came to a premature end as Kamberi and then Morelos were thwarted.

Within minutes, the turnaround was completed, for now. Katic knocked the ball down the line and Kamberi spun Kerr and burst towards goal.

Aribo had advanced from his left-back berth and rounded off the move with a deft finish across Clark that gave Rangers the lead with just 20 minutes remaining. With ten left, they lost it.

Gerrard had introduced Steven Davis and Greg Stewart as Rangers looked to see it out but St Johnstone capitalised on more shambolic defending. It started with Goldson and Katic failing to clear a long ball and ended with May scrambling home from a corner as Rangers had to regroup for another effort at salvaging the points.

Kamberi had the ball in the net but referee Willie Collum ruled it out for handball. That was as close as Rangers would come as another two points were squandered.

There was no great escape in Perth. There will be none in the Premiership, either.