Motherwell Under 20s turned in their best performance of the season so far to record a 2-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox.
The Steelmen came into the match on the back of two wins and were excellent throughout.
Craig Moore put ‘Well ahead from the spot after 28 minutes only for Rangers to get themselves level three minutes later, David Templeton’s free-kick deflected past the helpless Ross Stewart.
Motherwell were back in front just four minutes later when Dale Shirkie fired a low effort under Steve Simonsen.
The second half was end-to-end stuff but the Steelmen held out to record a famous win, the first of any Motherwell side at Ibrox for almost seventeen years and at the same time denying the hosts a return to the top of the table.
Jonatan Johansson made two changes to the side that beat East Fife at Bayview last weekend. Ben Hall and Steven Higgins dropped out, replaced by Fraser Kerr and Adam Cummins as ‘Well lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Rangers had the likes of Dean Shiels, David Templeton, Fraser Aird, Barry McKay and Steve Simonsen amongst their starting eleven.
The hosts made the better start but took twelve minutes to register a shot on target, Aird curling a shot straight at Ross Stewart who gathered comfortably.
Kyle McAusland followed that with a low poked effort after a marauding run into the area, but the outstretched foot of Stewart denied him.
Motherwell weathered some of that early Rangers pressure and gradually worked their way into the match. Adam Cummins flashed a header narrowly wide of the post before Moore headed a Leitch cross over the bar.
It was Rangers who were looking the more threatening though, particularly on the counter, and Stewart would again deny McAusland before watching an Aird shot fly high over the bar after industrious build-up play from Templeton.
It would be Motherwell who would break the deadlock from the penalty spot after the referee ruled McAusland had handled Morgyn Neill’s header inside the area. Rangers complained but Moore kept his composure, tucking it coolly into the corner, sending Simonsen the wrong way.
The lead would only last three minutes though as Rangers got themselves level. Templeton was sent tumbling twenty-five yards from goal. The same player dusted himself down to take the kick that took a wicked deflection off Fraser Kerr and spun cruelly into the net.
Parity was restored almost as quickly. Rangers went to sleep at a free kick, allowing Moore to roll it to Dale Shirkie. The striker cut inside his marker before firing a stinging drive under Simonsen and into the net.
‘Well made a positive start to the second half and only a desperate block by Templeton on the line denied Moore after a tantalising Leitch corner.
Shortly after, Cummins might have done better inside the box with a close-range header but it bounced wide.
Moore was then first to a Cummins through ball and beat Simonsen from an acute angle but Luca Gasparotto was on the line to stop it going in.
There was a shout for a penalty when Moore went tumbling inside the area but it wasn’t given. Leitch was first to react to the loose ball but his low shot was deflected wide of the post.
The resulting corner found Kerr inside the area but Templeton hooked his header off the line – the third time Rangers had saved a certain goal in a fifteen-minute spell.
Motherwell continued to attack and Cadden was next to have a go but Simonsen held his bouncing shot.
Gordon Durie threw on a couple of substitutes and that freshness allowed Rangers to gain the upper hand.
Telfer fired a low shot down Stewart’s throat and David Templeton fired three long-range efforts way over the bar. Full-back Sinnamon hit a sweet shot that Stewart dealt with again before a fantastic last-ditch Leitch header off his own line saved the three points.
The win should give the young Steelmen side confidence when they return to Fir Park to face Aberdeen next midweek.
Motherwell: Stewart, Kerr, Ferguson, Cummins, Neill, Leitch, McCafferty, Shirkie (Anderson – 87mins), Moore, Thomas (Higgins – 83mins), Cadden
Subs Not Used: Currie, Hall, McCall, Mackin