Motherwell started their 2017/18 league campaign with a 2-1 loss at home to Rangers this afternoon.
A Graham Dorrans brace either side of a first ‘Well goal for Ben Heneghan dealt the Steelmen a frustrating blow on a dull day in Lanarkshire.
Stephen Robinson included five summer signings in his starting line-up, with Trevor Carson, Cedric Kipré, Charles Dunne, Andy Rose and Craig Tanner.
Similarly, Pedro Caixinha named a number of new faces, who looked to bounce back from a disappointing European exit.
And it was the ideal start for the visitors, who found themselves ahead inside five minutes when the ball broke kindly for Dorrans on the edge of the box – who duly side footed beyond Carson courtesy of two deflections.
And in what was a frantic opening period, surprisingly, neither side registered a shot on target until late in the first half.
Prior to that, Louis Moult was presented a golden opportunity just before the 20th minute when some hard work down the right allowed Chris Cadden to send in a terrific cross for the forward, who side-footed well wide of the target from a few yards out.
However, the Steelmen drew level with five minutes remaining in the half, when an inswinging cross from Tanner was nodded in by Heneghan for his first goal in a claret and amber shirt.
The start of the second period got off on a similar foot to the first, and before too long the Gers went back in front when Bobby Madden pointed to the spot following a collision in the box between Moult and Fabio Cardoso.
Dorrans stepped up and slotted the ball just inches beyond the fingertips of Carson in front of the packed McEwan Fraser Legal Stand.
But as Motherwell started to up their game, Rangers switched formation and replaced striker Kenny Miller with defender Danny Wilson.
That didn’t halt the home side’s momentum, and in the final ten minutes it looked like the ‘Well would be rewarded with an equaliser.
Another superb cross from the right was tapped towards goal by substitute Ryan Bowman, but clipped agonisingly off the far post and wide for a goal kick.
Two minutes later, the ball broke kindly for fellow sub Alex Fisher, who was denied by a tremendous close range save by Wes Foderingham as the ball, yet again, clipped the post.
It was very much a case of Motherwell not having luck on their side as the visitors left Lanarkshire with all three points after a dramatic league opener.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 2 Rangers
Three minutes added on.
..nodded out for a second corner….Heneghan heads over the bar at the back post!
Corner to the Steelmen….
Great break away but Tanner doesn’t release the ball to Newell who had made a great overlapping run!
Close! Fisher gets the break of the ball but his shot deflects off Foderingham then out off the post for a corner.
Rangers sub, Herrera off for Morelos
Dorrans booked for hauling down Cadden as he broke away from him
Final Motherwell change, Rose off for Newell
Heneghan booked for a challenge on Herrera
Rangers sub, Miller off for Wilson
So close!! Cadden’s ball is whipped in and touched on by Bowman but it goes out off the base of the post.
73′ | 1-2
Motherwell sub, Moult off for Fisher
Cardoso slides wildly through the back of Moult and is rightly booked
Motherwell sub, Frear off for Bowman
Rangers sub, Tavernier on for Hodson
Penalty for Rangers…
Candeias beats Dunne on the line and cuts it back to Miller but he scoops his shot over the bar.
49′ | 1-1
Dunne goes into the ref’s book for a challenge on Candeias
Tanner gets the second half underway. COYW!!!!
HT: Motherwell 1 – 1 Rangers
41′ | 1-1
Close! Windass again hits the woodwork, this time with a fine curling effort from the edge of the box.
40′ | 1-1
Heneghan with his first Motherwell goal!! Outstanding ball in from Tanner headed home at the back post!!
38′ | 0-1
Claims for handball there against Hodson in the box but looked more like ball to hand
31′ | 0-1
Rose and Frear combine down the left and from the ball in, Tanner is inches away from making proper contact. Chance trickles away
26′ | 0-1
Cadden’s cross is knocked out for a corner…
….Tanner’s ball in is far too deep and goes out for a throw-in.
25′ | 0-1
Frear wins a free-kick wide on ‘Well’s left….
20′ | 0-1
Windass with a burst of pace gets past his man and into the box. Curls his shot off the base of the post!
18′ | 0-1
What a chance! Cadden with a great ball in to the back post but Moult puts his effort wide of the post from close!
8′ | 0-1
Windass does well and gets in behind the defence but thankfully Kipré is on hand to stick it out for a corner.
4′ | 0-1
Goal – Alves clips the ball back into the box and Miller’s knock down is converted by Dorrans
3′ | 0-0
Free-kick to Rangers on their right-hand side….
We are now underway. COYW!!!!
Both sides out the tunnel. Great atmosphere here at Fir Park. COYW!!!
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Rangers manager Pedro Caixhaina