Kris Jack at Fir Park
Motherwell relinquished their stay at the top of the SPL and their unbeaten start to the season, as Rangers left Fir Park with three goals and all three points.
Goals from Steven Naismith, Kyle Lafferty and Greg Wylde hindered The Well’s opportunity to stretch their lead at the top, the first that they had lost this season.
With Rangers disappointing result in Europe in midweek and having a threadbare squad, by their standards at least, the signs were there that they were there for the taking. Alas, it was not to be and Motherwell’s nine-year wait for a victory over Rangers goes on.
‘Well started the match with Lasley returning from his suspension for the St Mirren win, replacing Ross Forbes in the middle of the park. Higdon and Murphy were charged with the attacking role, supported by the familiar pairing of Law and Humphrey on either side.
In contrast, Rangers were without a few regular starters, Ally McCoist forced to blood youngsters Jordan McMillan, Ross Perry and Greg Wylde. Saša Papac, Lee McCulloch, Weir, Whittaker and Bartley all missed out through injury, while Carlos Bocanegra, Alejandro Bedoya and Matt Mackay could not gain international clearance in time. The ever dangerous Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavić were set out as their main attacking threat, with Lafferty in the mix as well.
Both teams emerged from the tunnel to thunderous applause, The Well faithful greeting their top of the league heroes, the Rangers fans more so in encouragement to kick start their so far poor start to the season. ‘Well kicked off shooting towards a large travelling support and earned a corner straight away; Hateley’s kick put Allan McGregor under pressure, but Hammell’s volley went wide.
Rangers then had a free kick 30 yards out which Steve Davis floated in for Jelavić. His header however, sailed over from 8 yards. It was a spritely start to what would be an entertaining first half. Both teams were confident in keeping the ball and spreading their passes about. Motherwell tried to build each attack, while Rangers were keen to hit on the break.
This was exemplified when some patient build up play saw a cross-field pass from Lasley find Murphy. His dart in to the box brought a shot and a decent save from McGregor. Rangers’ response was immediate, a break ending with Lafferty forcing Randolph to make a great stop to keep the game level.
Rangers won a number of corners early on, most of which found Jelavić unmarked but off target. The warnings went unheeded though as the visitors took the lead after 19th minute. A soft free kick fell to Naismith, whose shot was deflected for a corner. Davis took the resulting kick, which found the net via Jelavić and a deft Naismith flick.
Motherwell were down but far from out and all that was missing from a good spell of possession was an equaliser. A decent penalty shout went unnoticed as Higdon went down under a Dorin Goian challenge, but nothing came of it. Jamie Murphy then had a goal chalked off for handball, after a well-worked corner. Replays suggested it was harsh on the striker, as it was ball to hand. Nonetheless, no goal given!
Going in 1-0 down at half time would have been fair enough, but Rangers hit their second just before the interval which effectively killed the game. Juan Manuel Ortiz broke down the middle before feeding Lafferty who struck a sweet shot low and beyond Randolph that cannoned in off the post. It was perhaps a bit harsh on the hosts, whose pretty play was not reaping it reward.
The second half followed a similar pattern. Rangers were content to soak up the Claret and Amber pressure and crowd them out at the edge of the box. Again, their breaks posted the biggest threat to the ‘Well rearguard.
Naismith and Lafferty could have added to the scoreline, but for inaccuracy. Motherwell’s best efforts looked to come from Tom Hateley’s set pieces. The former Reading youngster had McGregor scrambling to claw the ball from under his bar twice from corners, with a few free kicks just off target. Humphrey also had a shot-cum cross cannon off the bar before being cleared.
Davis then ran through the midfield before cracking a thunderous shot off the bar form all of 30 yards. Any hope of a miraculous comeback was killed off by Ranger’s third. With five minutes left, Davis’ lofted ball found Wylde with the whole of the East Stand side to himself, where he ran unchallenged before finishing with aplomb.
Motherwell will now look to Wednesday night’s cup game at Clyde to get back to winning ways.
[tab:As it happened]
Graham Barnstaple at Fir Park
Full time: 3-0 to Rangers, hugely disappointing after the start to the season we had made, better side won on the day, no complaints
90mins – Two minutes being added on – two too many for me….
88mins – The sponsors Motherwell Man of the Match has been announced as Stevie Hammell – tough choice.
85mins – Sub Rangers make a second change with Kerkar on for goalscorer Wylde…
85mins – GOAL! Wylde makes it three on the break after a long ball form Davis sent him clear.
80mins – Another inswinging corner has to be punched over by McGregor – that’s been our only real threat this afternoon.
76mins – Rangers sub, Lafferty off and Fleck on.
74mins – McGregor forced to palm away a Hateley corner as it looks as though it will drop in at the back post.
72mins -Rangers on the break again and Naismith ends the move by heading on to the cross bar – Lafferty booked for foul on Hammell.
70mins – At the moment Rangers are prepared to sit back and let us play in front of them and then break quickly – certainly working well I’m afraid
65mins – A minute later Davis hits a stunning 25 yarder which beats Randolph and bounces off the top of the bar.
64mins – A Humphrey cross from the right has McGregor back peddling as it crashes off the face of the cross bar.
61mins – Law dispossessed by Davis who releases Naismith but his shot sails wide of the far post – we are struggling to get behind Rangers.
48mins – Scrappy start to second half with Rangers still looking dangerous on the break despite all our possession.
46mins – Today’s crowd announced as 10092.
45mins – Teams back out – no changes for either side, and Rangers are set to kick off.
Half time – disappointing to be two down – mountain to climb now!
45mins – GOAL! In stoppage time Rangers make it 2-0 with Ortiz releasing Lafferty who smashes an angled shot in off the post – against the run of play.
43mins – McMillan shown a yellow for late tackle on Murphy.
42mins – Hutchinson shown a yellow for a foul on Lafferty.
40mins – Stuart McCall trying to urge his troops on, even running 30 yards up the touchline to retrieve the ball for a throw in.
38mins – Murphy had ball in the net but disallowed for a handball earlier in the move – ball to hand??
36mins – Wylde corner headed over by Jelavic.
33mins – Nicky Law shot from 18 yards fires straight into the hands of McGregor.
30mins – A bit better we have had some possession in Rangers half and Higdon hit a shot that was an easy save – progress.
25mins – We’ve not got into our stride yet, we need to find a way of getting supply out to Humphrey to test Wallace and get crosses in.
21mins – Naismith now being given as the goal scorer, hard to tell with the number of bodies in the 6 yard box – that’s my excuse!
20mins – GOAL! 1-0 Rangers, simple goal, corner from right by Davis headed in at close range – 380mins and we finally lose a goal this season 🙁
10mins – 2 great chances – Murphy shot saved by McGregor, at other end Randolph denies Lafferty – good tempo to the game so far.
1min – Good bit of banter from the boys in the East Stand with a banner saying “We Welcome the Chase”….
1min – ‘Well kick off and we are shooting towards the South Stand in the first 45.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We were up against a good side today, and I think when you play either of the Old Firm it is important to get the first goal and then you have a chance to win the game. To lose a goal from a set piece is disappointing with a corner with Jelavic losing his marker.
“We huffed and puffed and had a goal disallowed, probably rightly so, and the second goal came from a corner to us, this was similar to last season as the majority of the goals we lost to Rangers were on the break.
“Second half we had a lot of possession without really threatening McGregor enough, and they were always dangerous on the counter attack.”
Rangers manager Ally McCoist:
“I was really, really pleased with the game overall. There were some terrific individual performances but what pleased me the most was our team ethic.
“We were really solid and there was a real desire there to do well and work hard for each other. I’m thrilled with that. I felt we started very well. It was important we did that and we came out the traps looking a lot more confident than we did in the first couple of games of the season.
“We were also a lot sharper getting to balls than before and we were worthy of our lead when it came. We feel we’ve got players who can hit on the counter and that was the case with our second. I can’t wait to see that one back again tonight.
“It looked like a heck of a strike from Kyle and I was really pleased for him as he’s only been back for a couple of games yet he gave us all he had.”