Motherwell under-20s wrapped up their Development League campaign at Ibrox, but slumped to a 2-1 defeat.
A penalty from Jake Hastie wasn’t enough as goals from Amin Abaradan and Josh Jeffries wrapped up all three points for the hosts.
Under-20s manager Stephen Craigan called upon senior players Joe Chalmers and James McFadden, and there was a first under-20s start for Alfredo Agyeman who lit up the youngsters match against Inverness on Monday after stepping off the bench.
The young Steelmen didn’t start their trip to Glasgow on a similar foot to which they ended their game on Monday, and nearly paid the price after just three minutes.
The lively Serge Atakayi managed to breach the ‘Well defence and, from just six yards out, somehow opened his body too much as he passed it wide of the post.
That let off was nearly taken advantage of by the visiting Fir Parkers who went close through McFadden following a set piece. Tom Fry’s delivery was cleared initially but only as far as the forward, whose effort rose over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Rangers took full advantage of the next chance that fell their way though, when Amin Abaradan curled a cool effort beyond Ollie Pain in to the far corner in the 21st minute.
That sparked a resurgence in the ‘Well ranks though and Rangers could feel relieved to see a couple of glorious McFadden freekicks whistle inches wide of the mark in the space of ten minutes.
With eight minutes remaining in the opening half, Motherwell won a penalty and it was Ross MacLean who won the spot kick, just like against Inverness on Monday afternoon. The youngster, just back from injury, was dragged to the deck but Jake Hastie stepped up to convert the equaliser and it was more than deserved for the Steelmen.
And it could have been two for Craigan’s side and two for Hastie, when a glorious opportunity fell to the youngster just seconds before the half time whistle.
Some good work by Agyenman allowed him to lift the ball back across goal and over the defence to the awaiting Hastie, who took a good touch and laced an effort on goal from close range. McCrorie made himself big to get something to it though and he ensured it looped up over the bar.
The second half started on a more positive note than the first, with two decent chances falling Motherwell’s way within the first three minutes.
The first one, just 90 seconds in to the second period, came from a punch by the Gers stopper following a cross. It fell for McFadden who had to hit it first time on the bounce and at pace, and it went narrowly past the post.
A minute later Agyeman showed good composure to set himself in the box, but his effort on target was denied by a fine stop.
And the Fir Parkers were punished in the 50th minute when a cut back from the by line somehow opened up acres of space for the awaiting Josh Jeffries who side footed beyond Pain to send the hosts in front.
The game largely settled down after that, and it wasn’t until the 72nd minute when there could have potentially been another goal.
Winning the ball high up the park, Rangers outnumbered ‘Well as they surged forward on the break. Despite having two teammates unmarked and in promising positions, goalscorer Abaradan elected to go for goal and turned his effort wide – much to his teammates frustration.
Motherwell’s big chance to draw level came with ten minutes left to play, when Hastie raced through to latch on to a bouncing, short back pass. As McCrorie surged out of his goal, the ‘Well man managed to steer it past the keeper but, as it flew towards an open goal, it came crashing back out off the crossbar.
It turned out to be the final major opportunity for Craigan’s side, who ended their campaign with a defeat, but it doesn’t take away from the superb campaign they’ve enjoyed under the Northern Irishman, finishing with a highest ever league tally of 57 points.
Motherwell U20s: Pain, Watt, Livingstone, Chalmers, Armstrong, MacDonald (McAlear ’82), MacLean, Agyeman (Starrs ’75), McFadden(Semple ’62), Hastie, Fry
Unused subs: Pettigrew, Brown