The best of the action from Firhill as the Under 20s come from behind to secure a 3-4 win over Partick Thistle Under 20s.
TV: Highlights from FirhillSunday 22 January 2017
Craigan: Youngsters are full of heartSunday 22 January 2017
U20s boss Stephen Craigan watched his side put in a spirited performance to battle back from an early setback to win 4-3 in the Scottish FA Youth Cup this afternoon.
His side, who are now in the semi-final of the competition they won last season, were two down within nine minutes but a late winner from Mackin sealed a stunning comeback victory.
Speaking to MFC TV, Craigan hailed the attitude of his players who he believes would run through brick walls for each other and for him too.
He said: “It’s funny because I spoke to the players just before we left Fir Park and while we were having our pre-match meal and a chat, I said to them that they haven’t played a competitive game since we beat Aberdeen in the league in December so there would be questions asked today.
“Physically, mentally, how could they cope? Can you go through periods of the game when you’re feeling tired and you’re mentally fatigued, can you raise yourself through that?”
He added: “The opponent you’re playing against is going to ask you questions today, do you have the answers? And then can you go on and ask them questions?
[pullquote]The one thing you learn about this group of players, and I said this to them after the game, is that no matter how many people fire questions at them or throw accusations at them – they always have an answer.[/pullquote]
“I didn’t expect to be 2-0 down after six or seven minutes but that happens in football sometimes.”
Speaking about the attitude of his players, to not only come back to lead at the break but to win the game late on, Craigan said: “The one thing you learn about this group of players, and I said this to them after the game, is that no matter how many people fire questions at them or throw accusations at them – they always have an answer.
“They go through brick walls for you, they’re determined, they’re full of heart and they’re full of desire and that makes me proud to say that about them.”
He added: “You can’t give them that, that’s something you have within, that’s something that makes you ask those questions – do I want to go that extra little bit? Do I want to be a football player on a tough day when the pitch is heavy and we’re two goals down?
“At 3-3 do you have the bottle to really go for that winning goal? And they did.
I wasn’t surprised they had it, but at times you question do they and they certainly answered that today.
“It was a tough day, it was an emotional day for both managers, but I’m just delighted to be through.”
[pullquote]Thistle move the ball well, Scott McKenzie has them playing terrific football and Nesbit up front is a real handful you can tell he’s played first team football. [/pullquote]
Falling behind within just a few minutes was a blow but, as outlined by U20s assistant Keith Lasley, the fact it came early doors allowed the youngsters to kick on and respond.
Craigan said: “It really doesn’t give them much of a chance. After the opening goal that they scored early on, which was a soft goal to concede, Keith said to me that the positive about it was that it was so early in the game, it gives you a chance to get back in to it.
“But yet when we score the winning goal with three or four minutes to go, it’s difficult for them to raise themselves up again and psychologically you feel you get the better of them.
“Over the piece, to come to an away fixture at a tough venue against a team who I would class as one of the best 20s teams in the league is pleasing.”
He added: “Thistle move the ball well, Scott McKenzie has them playing terrific football and Nesbit up front is a real handful you can tell he’s played first team football.
“So you have to cope with all of this, and we did.”
Partick U20s 3 – 4 Motherwell U20sSunday 22 January 2017
Motherwell U20s booked their spot in the Scottish FA Youth Cup semi-final with a dramatic 4-3 win against Partick Thistle this afternoon.
Dylan Mackin’s 87th minute winner secured the all important victory as the youngsters got 2017 off to a winning start.
And it was the forward who bagged the crucial first goal for the ‘Well after Partick found themselves two up after just ten minutes, before Davie Turnbull and Jake Hastie fired Craigan’s youngsters in to a 3-2 half time lead.
Thistle equalised early in the second 45 but the U20s didn’t give up and kept their defence of the cup alive in stunning fashion and have scored 13 goals in their last two games.
Stephen Craigan recalled Ross MacLean and Jack McMillan to his starting eleven following the duos impressive spells in the first team, while Jordan Pettigrew replaced PJ Morrison in goals for the young Steelmen.
But it was Partick who started brightest and it was an unfortunate opening few minutes for Pettigrew, who spilled a cross only to see Callum Wilson arrive to tap in from a yard.
And before ten minutes had passed, the hosts had two. A cross from the right flank was headed on goal from Kevin Nisbet and it flew past Pettigrew courtesy of a slight deflection and after a mixture of both and unlucky and poor start the Steelmen had given themselves a hugely uphill task at Firhill.
However, in the 16th minute, Dylan Mackin rose well to head home Davie Turnbull’s pinpoint corner and raise the spirits for Craigan and his cup holding youngsters.
That kicked the Fir Parkers in to life and they were unfortunate not to be level in the 20th minute when MacLean tried his luck from range and Conor Cullen produced a wonderful save to tip the deflected strike round his post.
With just under ten minutes of the half remaining, Hastie gifted the Steelmen a terrific chance to draw level when he beat Thistle full-back McInally with ease and was dragged to the deck, forcing referee Ross Hardie to point to the spot.
Turnbull, on fine form of late, was denied by keeper Conor Cullen and the hosts remained ahead.
However, the youngster made amends when he got on the end of a loose ball after Cullen produced a fine save and levelled with just under five minutes left in the half.
And, on the stroke of half time, the youngsters managed to drag themselves in to a half time lead when Hastie lashed high and hard in to the roof of the net.
It was an action packed first half and the spectators were afforded the chance to take a breath as the half time whistle was blown.
The second half got off to a slower start and the first action of the period was a substitution, when MacLean was forced to leave the field of play with an injury – he was replaced by Reece Rintoul.
In the 57th minute, Thistle drew level and it was a scrappy build up completed by a neat finish. ‘Well failed to clear and Nisbet bagged his second of the match with a guided, low in near the base of the post.
After an hour, it looked like Motherwell may get back in front though if it wasn’t for some alert defending from full-back Ross Fleming, who steered Hastie’s cutback clear of the danger.
In a fairly quiet second period, perhaps the best chance of the second 45 fell for Allan Campbell with just over ten minutes remaining, but the midfielder had to stretch as he was faced up against the onrushing Thistle stopper. He didn’t get enough on it and Cullen gathered the ball.
Thislte hadn’t really tested Pettigrew too much after the equalising goal until the 82nd minute when a good cross was headed on target by Nisbet but it was straight at Pettigrew who saved comfortably.
Up the other end of the pitch and with just a couple of minutes left, Mackin tapped in the winning goal after Campbell’s terrific ball across goal.
Making no mistake, the tall forward passed in to the open net to book the Steelmen’s place in the semi-final of the Scottish FA Youth Cup.
TV: Highlights from IbroxSunday 22 January 2017
Highlights from Ibrox as despite taking the lead, Motherwell exit the Scottish Cup at the hands of Rangers.
U20s in Youth Cup actionSaturday 21 January 2017
Motherwell U20s return to action in their first match of 2017 with a quarter-final clash with Partick Thistle in the Scottish FA Youth Cup.
The match, taking place at Firhill Stadium, kicks off at 1pm and will be a big afternoon for the youngsters.
Not only will Partick prove to be tough opposition, but the Steelmen will be hungry to keep their defence of the trophy they lifted last season alive and kicking.
Stephen Craigan’s side will be keen to get back to action too, having not played competitive football since their 9-1 victory over Aberdeen a month ago.
The young Steelmen have overcome Cumbernauld Colts and Greenock Morton so far in the competition.
You can follow all the action live on twitter – @motherwellfc
McGhee: I’m devastatedSaturday 21 January 2017
Mark McGhee was left speechless after witnessing his side fall to a 2-1 defeat at Ibrox this afternoon in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.
Despite leading by a goal to nil with just five minutes left on the clock, two late goals from Kenny Miller secured progression for the hosts and left the Fir Park manager deflated.
MFC TV spoke to McGhee at full time, and the boss didn’t hide his emotions as he revealed how truly deflated him and his side were.
He said: “I’ve had something like 950 games as a manager and only twice before have I felt as badly as I feel now.
[pullquote] I’m speechless, I’ve not spent a lot of time talking to the players in there because I’ve got nothing to say to them – I’m lost for words. I can’t believe what I saw in the last ten minutes of the game.[/pullquote]
“Once, when I was manager at Millwall, we lost in the play-offs to Birmingham and once, as manager of Wolves, we lost to Crystal Palace for the same thing. This equals that feeling.”
He added: “I’m speechless, I’ve not spent a lot of time talking to the players in there because I’ve got nothing to say to them – I’m lost for words.
“I can’t believe what I saw in the last ten minutes of the game.”
Conceding the second goal was tough for the manager to take, and he admitted it is something that he will ponder over.
He said: “I can’t think about that right now all I can think about is the feeling I’ve got. I just keep reliving that second goal and I just can’t get that out of my head and I won’t for a long, long time regardless of what happens next week.
[pullquote]I can’t describe to you how bad I feel and I’m sure the supporters are the same. It was there for us and we were the architects of our own downfall, again. It’s just hard, hard, hard to bear.[/pullquote]
“There was an opportunity there today and the plan went well. We didn’t play nearly as well as I wanted us to in the first half in terms of possession, but we got away with it.
“And then, the last ten minutes, well, what can I say?”
Asked about how he will bounce back, the ‘Well boss said: “I’ll get back and I’ll find some sort of story for them to justify how we can beat Rangers next week, but for now I don’t have the answers.
“I can’t describe to you how bad I feel and I’m sure the supporters are the same. It was there for us and we were the architects of our own downfall, again. It’s just hard, hard, hard to bear.”
Rangers defeat in picturesSaturday 21 January 2017
Images from today’s 2-1 loss to Rangers in the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Snaps courtesy of SNSPix
Rangers 2 – 1 MotherwellSaturday 21 January 2017
Motherwell’s hopes of an historic Scottish Cup win at Ibrox were wiped out when a Kenny Miller double in the last six minutes shattered ‘Well’s cup dreams after Louis Moult had headed them in front with just 16 minutes remaining.
And having contained and frustrated Rangers for over 80 minutes, it was a hammer blow when Gers’ winning goal came as a result of a defensive lapse a minute from time.
Until then Motherwell’s tactics, discipline and hard work had looked to earn them at least a replay from this all Premiership tie.
Mark McGhee made four changes from the team’s last outing on Hogmanay. Stevie Hammell returned at full back with the injured trio of Keith Lasley, Chris Cadden and Joe Chalmers, coming back in to a five-man midfield. That left Louis Moult up front on his own with Scott McDonald on the bench.
With ‘Well set up to be organised and tight, they were happy to concede possession to the Ibrox side. But with Rangers intent on weaving intricate passes across the middle of the park there was little threat on Craig Samson’s goal.
In truth in the first half hour it amounted to a couple of floating headers from Miller, the first bouncing off the top of the bar and the second effort easily caught by the ‘Well ‘keeper.
After 36 minutes, the subdued home fans were on their feet demanding a penalty when Michael O’Halloran, after jinking past a couple of challenges in the box, fell to the ground.
A minute later the Fir Park men conjured up their best chance of a dull first half. Cadden was hauled back by Lee Wallace at the corner of the box and Hammell’s free kick was only cleared to Chalmers who drilled his shot low and hard but wide of goal.
Having comfortably contained Rangers in the first half, ‘Well played further forward after the break and Wes Foderingham had to look lively to deal with a couple of efforts including a glancing header from Louis Moult.
When Cadden earned another free kick at Wallace’s expense the Ger’s ‘keeper was forced into his first real save smothering Ben Heneghan’s header on his goal line as Lasley hovered waiting for a slip.
With 62 minutes played and sensing that the tie was there to be won Scott McDonald, to a chorus of boos from the home fans, came on for Chalmers.
And within three minutes the striker came close to silencing the Ibrox faithful when he dragged the ball across the penalty box before firing a left foot shot which Foderingham saved high to his left.
As Motherwell gained possession and Rangers and their fans grew more frustrated, it felt like the visitors might nick the opening goal – and they duly did in the 74th minute. Lasley sent Cadden towards the corner flag before firing a cross into the box where Moult outmuscled Rob Kieran to bullet a superb header high into the corner of the net and put ‘Well ahead.
As Rangers pushed for an equaliser, Samson brilliantly denied Martyn Waghorn as the striker rounded him inside the six yard box only for the ‘keeper to perfectly time his dive and intervention to push the ball away.
The equaliser was only delayed a couple of minutes though, when Waghorn’s inswinging cross found Miller who guided his header beyond the stretching Samson.
As the home crowd roared for a winner it almost came at the other end when a series of passes set up Carl McHugh and from 22 yards his fierce drive was brilliantly palmed away by Foderingham at full stretch.
Moult then flashed a header across the face of goal as Motherwell looked to win the tie.
In the most cruel fashion, though, the tie was lost at the other end in the 89th minute.
Stephen McManus, as the last man, was short with a pass through the middle and when Miller was released the veteran striker calmly whipped the ball behind the helpless Samson to end Motherwell’s cup hopes for another season.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Ibrox
FT: Rangers 2 – 1 Motherwell #RFCvMFC
90′ | 2-1
Four minutes added on.
89′ | 2-1
Goal – Miller is played clean through and makes no mistake with the finish. 2-1 to Rangers.
85′ | 1-1
Chance!! McHugh forces a great save from Foderingham and McDonald can’t convert the rebound.
85′ | 1-1
Goal – Rangers equalise from a Miller diving header
83′ | 0-1
Superb save from Samson as he races off his line and clears at the feet of Miller who looked sure to score.
81′ | 0-1
Motherwell sub, Cadden off for McMillan
78′ | 0-1
McDonald booked for time wasting
77′ | 0-1
McDonald’s cross is deflected wide for a corner…..again Rangers deal with the delivery.
75′ | 0-1
The Steelmen take the lead!! Cadden curls the ball in to MOULT who powers his header home!!!
72′ | 0-0
Rangers make their final sub, Hyndman on for Holt.
72′ | 0-0
‘Well win a corner but McHugh cant quite get on the end of Hammell’s delivery.
71′ | 0-0
Rangers sub, Waghorn on for O’Halloran
70′ | 0-0
Windass gets the break of the ball as he powers forward and from the edge of the box he fires wide of the post
69′ | 0-0
McKay cuts inside and fires a shot at goal. Thankfully it goes wide of the far post
66′ | 0-0
McDonald drifts in off the left and tries his luck with a curling left-footed shot which forces Foderingham into action
63′ | 0-0
Motherwell also make a change, McDonald on for Chalmers
63′ | 0-0
Rangers sub, Toral makes way for Windass
60′ | 0-0
Hammell and Chalmers combine down the left, the cross finds Lasley but as he tries to slide in Cadden, Wallace intercepts
59′ | 0-0
Chalmers booked for pulling back O’Halloran as he broke clear.
Hammell whips the free-kick in which finds Clay but his knock down is gathered by Foderingham.
57′ | 0-0
Cadden dispossesses his man and wins a free-kick wide on the right.
53′ | 0-0
McKay gets around the outside of Tait but Heneghan covers well and concedes the corner.
52′ | 0-0
Tait curls in a ball to the head of Chalmers but he can’t get enough power in his header and it loops straight to Foderingham
46′ | 0-0
Close! Great ball in from the left by Chalmers but Moult can’t quite get on the end of it.
46′ | 0-0
Moult collects a loose ball but sees his effort from 20 yards sail well over the bar.
Lasley gets the second 45 underway. COYW!!!!
Both sides are back out, as we get ready for the second half.
HT: Rangers 0 – 0 Motherwell #RFCvMFC
39′ | 0-0
It’s a great ball in from Hammell but its headed clear as far as Chalmers who drags his shot just wide of the post.
38′ | 0-0
Cadden wins a free-kick just outside the box on the right hand side,,,,
37′ | 0-0
O’Halloran goes down in the box after a Hammell tackle but ref waves it away. Hard to tell on first look.
From the free-kick, McKay drills it straight into the wall.
31′ | 0-0
Miller goes down under a challenge from McHugh giving Rangers a dangerous free-kick about 25 yards from goal
28′ | 0-0
Hodson’s ball in is knocked out for a corner by Chalmers, then ‘Well deal with the delivery.
…from the free-kick Miller heads goalwards and it clips the top of the bar on the way over.
19′ | 0-0
Hodson gets past Chalmers and the Motherwell man pulls him down. Free-kick wide on the right for Gers…
14′ | 0-0
Decent break there. Tait gets down the right, cuts in on his left and swings in a superb ball which Hill rises to head clear.
12′ | 0-0
McHugh brings down O’Halloran about 25 yards out…..Toral clips it in but the linesman’s flag goes up for offside
6′ | 0-0
Loose ball falls to Wallace on the edge of the box…he shoots but it’s deflected wide for a corner.
Rangers get the action underway. COYW!!
Both sides emerge from the tunnel, ‘Well in their full white third kit, Rangers in their usual blue
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
Rangers manager Mark Warburton:
Hastie pens ‘Well extensionFriday 20 January 2017
‘Well starlet Jake Hastie has committed his future to the club by penning a two-and-a-half year contract extension.
The 17-year-old Academy product has been in hot form for the Under 20s recently, and has been rewarded with call-ups to the first-team under manager Mark McGhee.
A graduate of the Steelmen’s Elite Academy, Hastie turned pro 18 months ago and has developed in to a strong, pacey attacker under the guidance of Stephen Craigan and has secured his future with the club until summer 2019.
Jake, upon signing his new deal, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to sign the new deal, it’s been going on a while now and I hope I can go on to really progress as a player over the next few years.”
The youngster follows in the footsteps of youngsters Ross MacLean, Jack McMillan, Chris Cadden, Allan Campbell and David Turnbull in extending his stay with the Steelmen.
But he insists it is not just his performances which have helped him, crediting his manager Stephen Craigan for the work he has down with the under-20s.
[pullquote]I’m absolutely delighted to sign the new deal, it’s been going on a while now and I hope I can go on to really progress as a player over the next few years.[/pullquote]
He said: “It feels brilliant to sign the new deal – I’m over the moon with it.
I feel like I’ve deserved it with my performances but to be honest it’s not just down to me, it’s down to Crags too.
“His hard work, constantly working with us day in day out is paying off with a lot of us in the 20s, which I think everyone can see with the number of us getting debuts this season.”
He added: “I just want to continue to work hard, try my best to get in to the first team and on the bench so hopefully I can get some appearances here and there.
“Then, when my chances come, I just want to do everything I can to take them. When I came on against Celtic at Parkhead I was excited and nervous, but afterwards, and still now, it’s made me hungry to get out on the pitch as a first team player.
“Getting the two-and-a-half year deal is good because it gives me a good spell to work hard and prove myself to the manager.
[pullquote]It feels brilliant to sign the new deal – I’m over the moon with it.
I feel like I’ve deserved it with my performances but to be honest it’s not just down to me, it’s down to Crags too.[/pullquote]
“Its brilliant working under the manager and Faddy – they talk to you all the time and make sure to tell you what to work on but also let you know when you’re doing well too.”
‘Well boss Mark McGhee said: “I’m delighted for Jake – getting a new deal is testament to his hard work and he more than deserves it.
“I’m also delighted for the club because at just 17 years of age it is clear to see that Jake has a lot to give to Motherwell and I look forward to seeing him develop.”
He added: “I sound like I’m repeating myself constantly when I talk about the work done here at this club through the Academy, Scott Leitch and all the coaches and Stephen Craigan too, but we are bringing through so many exciting young players.
“It is the model we adopt here because the benefits are clear and I hope that Jake and all the other lads who have signed new deals, work their very hardest and prove to the club, the fans and to themselves, that they can step up to the potential they clearly have.”
Rangers: A closer lookFriday 20 January 2017
Motherwell take on Rangers in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup tomorrow afternoon, as competitive football gets back underway in the first match of the year.
For Mark McGhee’s men, the match presents a chance to extend their unbeaten run to three matches in all competitions following the 2-1 win over Inverness and the dramatic 1-1 draw with Hamilton in the final match of 2016.
Rangers, on the other hand, stumbled a little towards the end of the year, drawing with St Johnstone before losing to Celtic in their final two matches.
But Mark Warburton and his players will be keen to start their Scottish Cup run with a positive result tomorrow, after suffering an agonising defeat in last years final.
David Gray’s last minute header ended Hibs 114-year wait to lift the cup but broke Rangers fans hearts in the process.
However, that was last season, and ‘Well boss Mark McGhee believes Rangers are developing as a team with every passing match, let alone between seasons.
Speaking to the press this morning, the manager said: “Rangers to me seem to have taken a bit of time, players that is, to come to terms with the fact that they are Rangers and they’re in the top division again and how people want to play against them.
[pullquote]They are Rangers, they have done as well as I think they’ve been expected to do because I don’t think they should be expected to be challenging Celtic at this stage but I think they were expected to be in the mix and they are and I think, therefore, that they are on track.[/pullquote]
“As a former Old Firm player, you know that every week is the biggest game of the season for the opposition and you’ve got to be able to handle that.
“The big clubs have that, whether it’s in Scotland or down south at Manchester United or wherever, everybody and their granny turns up for those games, all the people that you don’t see here come out the woodwork when you’re playing Rangers and Celtic.”
He added: “That’s a challenge for the Rangers and Celtic players and it seems to me that the Rangers players are starting to come to terms with that and starting to mature in to what is more recognisable as a Rangers team in terms of their attitude.”
McGhee isn’t surprised to see the Glaswegian side second in the table, and added that he feels they are doing as well as should have been expected.
He said: “They are Rangers, they have done as well as I think they’ve been expected to do because I don’t think they should be expected to be challenging Celtic at this stage but I think they were expected to be in the mix and they are and I think, therefore, that they are on track.”
Motherwell will me missing Lee Lucas through suspension. Jacob Blyth and Kieran Kennedy will be absent through injury.
Rangers will be without James Tavernier who is suspended while Niko Kranjcar, Joe Garner and Joe Dodoo will be absent through injury.
Keith Lasley believes Motherwell head in to the Scottish Cup fourth round meeting with Rangers tomorrow in a good frame of mind.
And with a number of successful years under his belt with the Steelmen, the skipper admitted that lifting the Scottish Cup is the one thing he feels is missing from recent seasons.
Speaking to the press this morning, the midfielder conceded it gets more and more pressing every season.
He said: “I’m afraid it does but it’s up to us to do something about it. We’ve discussed it many times, sitting in this chair, about how good it would be for the club and for the fans.
“We know the history of a great final in ’91 and we’ve not done so well since then – a few finals here and there that have ended in disappointment – but no, it would be good but we know we have a tough tie tomorrow.”
Lifting the Scottish Cup is the one thing that is probably missing in recent seasons and everybody around this club would love to do that for the fans and for the community as a whole especially with everything we’re trying to build at this club in terms of the community being involved in it.
As much as the captain wants to lift the cup, he knows just how much it would mean to the fans.
He said: “The level of consistency we’ve shown in the league, it wasn’t just one season or even two, it was probably about half a dozen years of consistent and relative success in the league and European qualification.
“There were a couple of runs in there in the cup where we probably just didn’t finish the job off which is disappointing.”
He added: “Lifting the Scottish Cup is the one thing that is probably missing in recent seasons and everybody around this club would love to do that for the fans and for the community as a whole especially with everything we’re trying to build at this club in terms of the community being involved in it.
“To bring a cup to Motherwell would be fantastic and something that would probably just drive that community spirit even more.”
[pullquote]Our last couple of performances against both sides of the Old Firm have been really positive and anybody who was at our last meeting with Rangers at Ibrox would concede that we were unfortunate to not taking anything from the game.[/pullquote]
The Fir Parkers are ready for tomorrow’s challenge, one which is perhaps one of the toughest Motherwell could face.
Lasley said: “Of course it’s going to be tough tomorrow, it’s probably one of the toughest draws you can get at this stage of the cup.
“Take away Celtic and it’s probably the toughest assignment at the moment, but, we feel that we’re capable of competing against anybody and I include Celtic in that.”
He added: “Our last couple of performances against both sides of the Old Firm have been really positive and anybody who was at our last meeting with Rangers at Ibrox would concede that we were unfortunate to not taking anything from the game.
“At one stage of the game I think we actually can look back and think we were disappointed not to win the game, let alone take nothing.
“That gives us confidence going in to the match and the fact that we’re on the back of a couple of decent results, albeit before the break, so we go there in a good frame of mind and we’re certainly confident we can give a good account of ourselves because we’ll need to.”
Rangers have slotted back in to the top flight of Scottish football seamlessly this season.
Despite sitting 19 points behind league leaders and arch-rivals Celtic, the Glaswegian side find themselves second in the Premiership table, midway through their first season back.
And while many won’t be surprised to see the club back around the summit of the table, it is still an impressive return to the top flight for the club after being away for four seasons.
Under manager Mark Warburton, the Gers have not only been busy in the transfer market but they have also found themselves playing an attacking brand of football.
New arrivals Joe Garner, Clint Hill, Joe Dodoo and Josh Windass have enjoyed good starts to their Rangers careers – and the recent arrivals of Jon Toral and Emerson Hyndman boost the Ibrox outfit further ahead of the second half of the campaign.
And it will be a welcome boost too, with Warburton’s side somewhat stuttering towards the end of 2016, ending the year with a single point from their final two fixtures.
A draw away to St Johnstone was followed up by a 2-1 loss at Ibrox to Celtic, leaving Rangers on 39 points after 21 matches.
Kenny Miller gave his side the lead in the Hogmanay clash, tapping in from close range to send the Ibrox crowd in to an early frenzy.
But a thunderous effort from Moussa Dembele after half an hour drew the visitors level before Scott Sinclair’s tap in with 20 minutes remaining secured the win for Brendan
Rodgers side and left Rangers with a long wait before returning to competitive action tomorrow afternoon.
Both Motherwell and Rangers will have been working hard over the winter break to get back to match fitness, and with two matches against one another coming up in quick succession, the two sides will be well prepared after a few weeks off.
Rangers are recently back from a trip to Germany, where they lost 4-0 against RB Leipzig while the Steelmen have been preparing hard in training for tomorrow’s fourth round fixture.
Mark Warburton’s men will feel a sense of unfinished business with the Scottish Cup this season, following their 3-2 loss against Hibs in the final back in May.
Trailing 2-1 with just over ten minutes remaining, the Edinburgh side managed to grab an equaliser through Anthony Stokes and eventually won the match in dramatic fashion when David Gray headed home to snatch a 3-2 lead in the 92nd minute.
The manner in which Rangers lost the final will undoubtedly have left a bitter taste in the loyal supporters mouths, but it does not take away from the impressive 2015/16 season they had.
Storming to the Championship title, lifting the Challenge Cup and finishing runners up in the Scottish Cup was a terrific first season for the newly appointed Warburton and his assistant David Weir.
This season, while the league is starting to slide ever more in to Celtic’s grasp, Rangers will be keen to keep the gap between their rivals down, but in Motherwell they know they will face tough opposition tomorrow.
The winter break is over, the Scottish Cup is ready to get going again and Ibrox awaits for the Steelmen.