Motherwell suffered SWPL Cup heartache as Rangers scored eight minutes from time to claim a 1-0 victory at New Tinto Park.
Eddie Wolecki Black’s side more than held their own in a fiercely contested affair, that saw the hosts reduced to ten when Chelsie Watson was shown a red card for bundling over Suzanne Mulvey as the striker raced clear on goal.
‘Well made a bright start and could have been ahead in the opening minute. Sophie Gallagher forced Rangers keeper Khym Ramsay into an excellent low stop.
The hosts grew into the game after a quiet start, however chances were at a premium, with the ‘Well defence coping brilliantly throughout periods of sustained pressure.
Three minutes before the break there was controversy when Carla Boyce hit the deck inside the box. Instead of awarding a penalty the referee adjudged the striker to have taken a dive and showed her a yellow card.
The second half began with two half chances for Mulvey, before Lauren Davidson sent a shot sailing over the bar as Rangers began to threaten.
Both sides were showing they were more than happy to get stuck in and there were bookings for Emma Black and Kerry Montgomery as the game became increasingly scrappy.
Boyce brought out a good save from Johnstone with 19 minutes remaining and a magnificent sliding challenge from Stephanie Knox denied Hannah Coakley an excellent scoring opportunity.
With very little to separate the two sides, extra time was looking increasingly likely, but it was the home side who would strike late to clinch the game.
With Motherwell temporarily down to 10 due to a knock to Montgomery, Rangers seized on their numerical advantage. A quickly taken short corner caught the ‘Well defence off guard and Chantelle Brown’s low drive evaded all in the penalty box and found the far corner.
Mulvey tested Ramsay as Black’s side tried desperately to find a way back into the game. And with two minutes remaining it looked like the striker was just about to do so before being cynically pulled to the ground on the edge of the box, resulting in a red card for a Rangers defender.
From the free kick, Cunningham was denied by an excellent save from Ramsay and the resulting corner was scrambled clear.
The late defeat was harsh on Motherwell who had performed superbly against their opponents from the league above. Their attentions will now turn to league matters, with their next fixture taking place after the international break, a home fixture against Central Girls on March 11.