Two second half goals earned Rangers a 2-0 win over Motherwell this afternoon. But it was two red cards in the first half that shaped the game.
The fourth minute dismissal of Michael O’Halloran gave the Fir Park men the ascendancy for twenty minutes until Scott McDonald, perhaps rather harshly, was also shown a straight red card.
Ultimately, the loss of the ‘Well striker who had been a constant threat from the first minute proved more costly as Rangers made the most of it after both sides were reduced to ten men. The visitors could count themselves lucky too after defender Rob Kiernan escaped a red card for a challenge which was arguably worse than McDonald’s.
There was a significant change in the home line-up, both in terms of personnel and tactics with McDonald lining up alongside Louis Moult and Keith Lasley dropping to the bench. The ‘Well captain was joined in the dugout with the three midweek signings; Elliot Frear, Zak Jules and ‘keeper Russell Griffiths.
The weather was a complete contrast from the previous Saturday, as the game kicked-off in mid-day mist and rain. And ‘Well’s approach was also transformed from last week, taking the game to the Ibrox side from the start.
Even against 11 men ‘Well had threatened with a couple of half chances falling McDonald’s way. With only four minutes played though, Rangers were reduced to ten men when O’Halloran’s high boot caught McHugh in the thigh and was shown a straight red by Willie Collum.
That gave Chris Cadden a free reign in the middle of the park and from the first of his many powerful runs down the right his low ball across the face of goal was just too far in front of McDonald.
The Rangers’ defence was unsettled but it might have been worse when Rob Kiernan’s sliding follow through caught Stevie Hammell and the Ibrox defender was fortunate to escape with a yellow card.
Wes Foderingham was under increasing pressure and Carl McHugh, then McDonald, had shots saved by the ‘keeper.
In the 20th minute Moult set up McDonald but his rising shot sailed over the bar. Two minutes later the ‘Well striker just failed to force another tempting cross from Cadden over the goal line.
Unfortunately, that was his last chance to get on the scoresheet. As he took a heavy touch on the ball, McDonald invited a tackle from Kenny Miller and as he tried to retrieve the situation he caught the Rangers’ striker on the ankle, forcing Collum to produce a second red card inside the opening 25 minutes.
That not only dented ‘Well’s attacking threat but also gave Gers the initiative and minutes later Craig Samson produced his first save beating away Emerson Hyndman’s angled drive.
With no McDonald in the middle Cadden decided to go on a solo run before steering his shot wide of goal.
At the other end Miller thought he had opened the scoring but his powerful drive was superbly palmed wide by Samson at full stretch.
Having survived the first half Rangers started the second on the first foot and within a minute could have been in front. Lee Wallace cut in from the left and when Samson partially blocked his effort Tait and Hammell popped up on the goal line to clear the danger.
Apart from a Moult drive which was deflected over the bar the bulk of the action was around the home goal with Samson by far the busier ‘keeper.
It took another fine save from the ‘Well ‘keeper to palm away Jon Toral’s low header.
Rangers made the breakthrough after 72 minutes when, after Samson’s efforts to deny Wallace, the ball rolled in front of the unmarked Miller after a lucky mis-hit from substitute Waghorn fell in to the Scotsman’s path and he duly slammed the ball into the net from four yards.
Mark McGhee immediately looked for a response and sent on striker Ryan Bowman and new winger Frear.
It was Samson who kept Fir Park hopes alive with another stunning save low to his left to palm Harry Forrster’s ground shot round his post.
The killer second came four minutes from time when Hyndman was given time and space to pick his spot past Samson, who managed to get a strong hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out, and made it 2-0, wrapping up the points in the process.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 2 Rangers #MFCvRFC
87′ | 0-2
Goal – Hyndman finds plenty of time inside the box and powers it past Samson
79′ | 0-1
Hill booked for a tackle from behind on Moult
78′ | 0-1
Great save from Samson, diving low to his left to put Forrester’s shot wide of the post.
76′ | 0-1
Motherwell subs, Frear makes his debut, replacing Chris Cadden and Ryan Bowman is on for Tait.
75′ | 0-1
Rangers subs, McKay and Miller off for Windass and Forrester
74′ | 0-1
Moult tries his luck with a shot from range but it doen’t dip as required and flies over the bar.
71′ | 0-1
Goal – Waghorn’s mis-kick lands at the feet of Miller who finishes from 5 yards.
70′ | 0-0
Miller blasts just over the bar from 25 yards
68′ | 0-0
Rangers sub, Waghorn on for Toral
64′ | 0-0
Toral with a glancing header which Samson puts around the post.
61′ | 0-0
Halliday strikes right at Samson who comfortably makes the save.
55′ | 0-0
Moult wins a free-kick about 40 yards from goal….ball falls to Moult but it’s deflected over the bar. Ref gives a goal kick!
47′ | 0-0
A let off there as Wallace breaks clear down the left and his cross/shot deflects
Motherwell get the second half underway. COYW!!!!
50-50 | Today’s winning numbers are:
HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Rangers #MFCvRFC
There will be two minutes added on
39′ | 0-0
Miller and Hyndman combine of the edge of the box but Samson is equal to the Scot’s left footed effort
38′ | 0-0
Cadden drives at Hill, cuts on to his right foot and strikes one for the near post but it’s wide of the mark
34′ | 0-0
Wallace’s shot from range is deflected over the bar and from the resulting corner, ‘Well clear.
33′ | 0-0
Excellent defending by McManus. Showed McKay away from goal and got a great tackle in.
31′ | 0-0
Samson forced into action, parrying away a powerful McKay shot from inside the box,
26′ | 0-0
RED CARD! McDonald is sent walking for a tackle on Miller. Caught Miller right on the ankle
24′ | 0-0
Motherwell forced into a sub as Chalmers has a deep cut on his nose. McMillan will come on.
22′ | 0-0
What a chance!! Cadden puts in a great ball but McDonald’s connection from 5 yards goes wide of the post!
21′ | 0-0
Not a bad effort from McDonald, who shoots just over the bar from 25 yards
17′ | 0-0
Really good passage of patient passing leads to a Motherwell corner….low ball in eventually gathered by Foderingham
13′ | 0-0
Chance for McDonald! Played well onside by Tavernier and from a narrow angle, his left footed shot is gathered by Foderingham
11′ | 0-0
Kiernan booked for a really poor looking challenge on Hammell. Studs up but ref shows leniency.
10′ | 0-0
So close! Cadden clips in a great ball but it’s just half a yard away from McDonald who looked certain to score!
9′ | 0-0
Rangers break and Tavernier’s cross is put out for a corner, which Cadden heads clear
8′ | 0-0
Chalmers’ cross is deflected wide for a corner…..Tait delivers but Toral sweeps clear at the front post.
6′ | 0-0
Chance! Clay works some space in about 20 yards out but drags his shot just wide of the post!
Thankfully McHugh escapes injury and is fit to continue.
4′ | 0-0
RED CARD! O’Halloran send off for a horribly high challenge on McHugh!
Miller gets the action underway. COYW!!!
Out come the teams, usual colours for both sides #MFCvRFC
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
Rangers manager Mark Warburton: