Rob Maclean on referees speaking up, Liam Henderson, Ian Cathro, Rangers and Falkirk

Craig Thomson is surrounded by frustrated St Johnstone players after awarding Celtic a penalty
Craig Thomson is surrounded by frustrated St Johnstone players after awarding Celtic a penalty

BBC Scotland commentator Rob Maclean continues his weekly column looking at the main talking points from the weekend's football action.

Give refs a voice

Let's give a voice to Scottish football referees.

In this age of instant communication, it's nothing short of ridiculous that our officials are gagged when it comes to explaining their debatable decisions.

If there was some form of feedback, even the following day if immediately after-match is too dangerous, then Craig Thomson could try to convince us he was right to award Celtic a game-changing penalty in Perth on Sunday.

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Highlights: St Johnstone 2-5 Celtic

And Andrew Dallas could tell us why he booked a Hearts player at Fir Park on Saturday and gave a free-kick against him after one Motherwell player had tripped up another.

Now, we all make mistakes but most of us appreciate the chance to hold up the hand of acknowledgement or even apologise. Why not give referees that opportunity?

Henderson catches the eye

The second-placed pair in the Premiership, Aberdeen and Rangers, are now closer to the bottom of the league than the top.

As those two scrap it out for the runners-up spot, runaway leaders Celtic stretched the yawning gap that they've opened up over the next-best teams in the top flight to a massive 27 points.

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Moussa Dembele hat-trick rounds off superb Celtic team move

Even if they hadn't been gifted the chance of an equaliser at McDiarmid Park with that crazy penalty call when they were 2-1 down, Brendan Rodgers' team would probably still have found a way to extend their unbeaten domestic run to 29 matches.

Moussa Dembele was clearly the headline act against St Johnstone with his second-half hat-trick taking his Celtic goals total to 23 in six months but another 20-year-old Liam Henderson was also an eye-catcher.

His loan spell at Hibs last season has done hime a whole lot of good and recent displays in hoops only add to Rodgers' options.

From zero to hero in a week

Saturday completed a wonder week for Ian Cathro.

Suddenly the laptop-loving Hearts head coach appears to have gone from zero to hero with his new-look team picking up six points out of six since losing at Celtic Park, scoring seven goals in the process and reactivating their chances of qualifying for Europe.

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Highlights: Motherwell 0-3 Hearts

It was so important that they followed up their midweek routing of Rangers with another convincing performance and they delivered just that at Fir Park.

Slovenian full-back Andraz Struna, veteran centre-back Aaron Hughes, Greek midfielder Alex Tziolis and Portuguese striker Isma Goncalves have all made a significant impact.

African Cup of Nations-winner Arnaud Djoum will soon be back in the mix as well to further top up what now looks to be a pretty impressive squad.

Morton could scalp fragile Rangers

The upcoming Scottish Cup fifth-round meeting with Morton at Ibrox has become a massive match for Mark Warburton and Rangers.

The pressure is mounting after that dispiriting 4-1 defeat at Tynecastle was followed by a 1-1 home draw with bottom six team Ross County.

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Highlights: Rangers 1-1 Ross County

Rangers have failed to build on the team which won last season's Championship. Plenty players have been recruited. None have made much impact. Some have been a total failure.

And even some of those who impressed in the last campaign, like Martyn Waghorn and Harry Forrester, have become bit-part players.

Rangers are in a fragile condition at the moment and that fact won't be lost on wily Morton manager Jim Duffy.

Houston's dynamos

Falkirk manager Peter Houston
Peter Houston's Bairns are vying with Morton for third place in the Championship

Peter Houston is another manager who uses years of football experience to great effect and his Falkirk team could again be set to make their mark in the end-of-season playoffs.

Last May the Bairns were a game away from promotion to the Premiership. They beat Hibs in the playoff semi finals, then took a 1-0 lead into the second leg of the final against top-flight Kilmarnock.

They were blown away in the end at Rugby Park as their brave bid fizzled out.

For much of this season Falkirk have struggled to recreate that top form of the last campaign but maybe they're coming to the boil at just the right time.

Under the radar, they've climbed into third place in the Championship with the help of back-to-back wins, and it wouldn't be the craziest notion to think that Falkirk might again be a star turn when the playoff drama unfolds.

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