Keith Lasley discusses the performance at Rangers, the importance of home form and taking on a difficult opponent in Kilmarnock when he spoke to the broadcast media on Tuesday.
Here’s what the assistant manager had to say ahead of the match.
On the performance at Rangers
“It was a good performance. We knew we’d have to be disciplined and play a certain shape and system. And you know, I think Rangers in recent weeks have had a way of steamrollering teams, in terms of scoring a lot of goals.
“So we knew what we were going up against. But I thought the boys delivered the plan that we had on an individual basis.
“I think it was a lot of good performances. So I think for us improving is winning. We want to get better all the time and I think in terms of going to a place like that as I said, I think it was a big improvement and we just take heart from that. What we need to make sure is there is still more improvement to be done.
“There were some really good individual performances, but we believe there’s more to come from these guys and that’s our challenge now to keep pushing.
“It showed you the fine margins that were in the game. That it was a set play they ended up deciding the game. We were up against a good team and for us to go there and show what we did, we take heart from that because it was a good performance.
“We’ve got two massive games at home now and it’s up to us now to use those positives, continue to improve the things that were good and take that into these two home games.
“What we can control here is performances. That was a good performance, sometimes you don’t get that result.
“But as I said improvement is a big thing for us here, both on an individual basis in terms of the players themselves, and the team.
“If that happens, results come. We’re gonna need another top two performances in these next two games.”
On home form
“I think the home form in general, regardless of who it is against, is important. I don’t think that’s a team out there that will have a successful season without having a decent home record.
“I think it’s where, in front of your own supporters, you set out what you want to be. We want this place to be a hard place to come and people talking about Fir Park and Motherwell being a hard place to go.
“So it’s up to us to create that atmosphere here and create that environment for other teams to come in to so. That’s what we are trying to do.”
“They are up to third now and they’ve been on a really good run. We know that challenge. We know the challenge of being back here at home and playing in front of our own supporters. It’s up to us to entertain them and and put on a good performance.
“So that’s a challenge that’s there. As a player sometimes you come off a game at Ibrox in front of a big crowd, and it’s been a big mental and physical effort.
“We have to go again. We have to reassess the boys and make sure we’re ready to go again.”
Opposition Report: A look at Kilmarnock
Tuesday 29 October 2019
Following on from a magnificent campaign under the guidance of Steve Clarke, Kilmarnock look like carrying on their momentum into the 2019/20 season.
Despite not grabbing the same levels of attention for their early performances under new boss Angelo Alessio, the Rugby Park side are quietly demonstrating their credentials to back up last season’s third place finish. And after both Aberdeen and Motherwell suffered defeats on Sunday, they returned to third in the Scottish Premiership table.
It was a summer of transition and after Clarke agreed to depart Killie to take up the role of Scotland manager, the club decided to look outside of many of the usual candidates – instead opting for former Chelsea, Italy and Juventus assistant boss Alessio.
The story so far
Things got off to a dreadful start as Welsh league part-timers Connah’s Quay Nomads overcame a 2-1 first-leg loss to register a 2-0 success at Rugby Park, dumping Killie out of the Europa League at the first hurdle.
Opening the season with defeats against Rangers and Hamilton, the pressure was mounting on the Italian. But he has proven the doubters wrong in the months that have followed.
Killie have lost just once in their last 10 matches – a 3-1 defeat at Celtic Park.
During this run they have kept eight clean sheets and picked up victories in their last three successive Scottish Premiership fixtures. Heading to Fir Park a point above the hosts in the league table, an intriguing clash awaits.
How they shaped up last time
Three to watch
Having already racked up six clean sheets this season, Romanian goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu is settling in very well in the Premiership.
The 25-year-old joined the club on a season-long loan from Juventus in July, his sixth spell in a row out on loan, having been with Haladas in Hungary, Omonia in Cyprus, Dinamo Bucharest in Romania and, at the start of last season, Gorica in Croatia.
Branescu has credited legendary Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon for teaching him everything he knows about goalkeeping, having spent two years as understudy to the World Cup winner between 2012 and 2014. He may have a long way to go to reach the levels of his former teammate, but in his first few months in Scotland he has shown plenty of positive signs.
Killie captain Gary Dicker has been pivotal in helping the Rugby Park side bounce back from their early season setbacks to demonstrate their credentials to again mount a challenge at the top end of the table.
Dicker, who has been capped four times for the Republic of Ireland’s Under 21s, recently scored his first goal for Kilmarnock in over two and half years when he opened the scoring in the 2-1 win over Livingston and it’s started somewhat of a scoring streak, as he added the winning goal against St Mirren on Saturday.
So far this season Dicker has contested the fifth highest amount of defensive duels in the Scottish Premiership. And while his role in the team is often understated, there should be little doubt as to how integral he is to Angelo Alessio’s side.
Dom Thomas will be a name very familiar to ‘Well fans, though his three seasons at Fir Park may be looked back upon as a time in which the youngster didn’t quite reach the heights expected.
A run of games was something that eluded Thomas for most of his spell with the Steelmen, though there were glimpses of his abilities and most notably he played a big role in the club lifting the Youth Cup at Hampden with a 5-2 victory over Hearts.
After joining Kimarnock in July 2017, Thomas has had a loan spell with Queen of the South and then with Dumbarton where he scored 15 goals last season. Under Angelo Alessio, the winger is mounting a challenge for a starting berth and will be determined for the chance to show his former club what they are missing.
Wherever you are, there’s also live audio commentary available on our streaming service for £5.99 a month.
Next up: Kilmarnock
Monday 28 October 2019
Kilmarnock are the visitors to Fir Park in midweek, as Motherwell look to arrest a run of two defeats.
Killie leapfrogged the Steelmen into third at the weekend, with Stephen Robinson’s side in fourth spot.
Kick off at Fir Park on Wednesday is at 7.45pm.
Tale of the tape
Back-to-back losses to Aberdeen and Rangers saw Motherwell drop a place in the league but form across the season remains positive, with five wins from 10 matches.
After a nervy start to the season, and the disappointment of going out of the UEFA Europa League at the hands of minnows Connah’s Quay Nomads, Angelo Alessio has steadied the ship and returned the team to form.
With wins in their last three league matches, Killie sit a point ahead of Motherwell going into the match.
Head to head
Motherwell haven’t won in their last five against Kilmarnock, losing four and drawing one.
The Steelmen have also netted just once – in a 3-1 defeat in September 2018 – and conceded six.
“We gave them more than a game. The challenge now is taking our quality today into the next matches.”
Stephen Robinson reacts to the narrow loss at Rangers.
Motherwell lose out at Rangers
Sunday 27 October 2019
Despite a terrific performance both tactically and in terms of commitment, Motherwell failed to take a point from an absorbing encounter at Ibrox.
Devante Cole’s 20th minute strike was just reward for Motherwell’s positive start and first half display. Jermaine Defoe grabbed the equaliser just prior to the half-time whistle, but that failed to deter the Steelmen, who were eventually beaten by Filip Helander’s headed winner 11 minutes from time.
Much to their credit the Fir Park men failed to fold and ended the game pressing the home side for a deserved equaliser and a well earned point.
Looking to reclaim third spot in the league Stephen Robinson made four changes from the side which lost to Aberdeen.
Bevis Mugabi made his first start, and with Jake Carroll back from injury he formed a back five. Liam Donnelly, returning from suspension, was anchored in front of the back line providing ‘Well with a strong defensive unit to blunt a free scoring Rangers’ attack.
However, at the other end of the park, and for the first time, the ‘Well boss opted to pair Christopher Long and Devante Cole in attack, in the hope of giving the home defence some problems of their own.
As it tuned out the first couple of goal threats came from the visitors. With three minutes on the clock Long released Liam Grimshaw down the right flank and when his low cross was partially cleared the ball found Long but his curled effort flew over the crossbar.
Two minutes later the former Blackpool striker was a couple of strides away from reaching Liam Polworth’s decisive through ball as Alan McGregor raced from his line to smother the threat.
The home side had a couple of long range efforts off target as the ‘Well defence stood tall against a series of crosses.
However, with 20 minutes played and just when the Ibrox fans thought their side was getting into its stride, the Fir Park men stunned them with the opening goal.
Allan Campbell, who showed great tenacity at the edge of his own box to win a free kick, then popped up at the other end where his snap shot was blocked. With his back to goal Cole collected the loose ball tuned and from 15 yards drilled a low shot past the diving McGregor to give the Steelmen a lead to protect.
Not surprisingly Rangers came surging forward in pursuit of a quick equaliser and within a couple of minutes there were two strong appeals for a penalty as they claimed the ball clattered off Peter Hartley’s and then Grimshaw’s arms. Mugabi, looking big and solid between Hartley and Declan Gallagher bravely charged down Greg Stewart’s powerful drive as the intensity around the visitor’s penalty area increased.
Rangers were finally awarded a spot kick after 37 minutes. Heading for the byline, James Tavernier hit the ground as he nipped past Polworth much to the ‘Well man’s indignation. Despite the Fir Park players pleas to referee Andrew Dallas, the decision stood – only for Tavernier to smack the spot kick off the foot of the post.
Three minutes from the break Steven Gerrard made an early change bringing on the highly rated Ryan Kent. And in injury time Rangers grabbed the equaliser, as ‘Well players again protested.
As Donnelly claimed a foul, Jermaine Defoe headed towards the visitor’s box where he set up Scott Arfield. From 20 yards the Canadian’s thumping drive was beaten out by Mark Gillespie but only as far as Defoe, who from an angle, slammed the ball under the ‘keeper to make it all level at the interval.
Ten minutes into the second half and with Rangers furiously pressing to take the lead, ‘Well made their first substitution Richard Tait replacing Carroll at left back.
Campbell, thriving on the midfield action, shrugged off a couple of challenges but after a smart exchange with Cole he just failed to play the on loan Wigan striker in behind the home defence.
Despite Rangers’ possession around the box, Gillespie was well protected until 62 minutes when he threw himself low to his left to push Tavernier’s angled shot beyond his post. A minute later Donnelly’s trip on Defoe 20 yards from goal presented Tavernier with another set piece but the full back fired the free kick over Gillespie’s bar.
As the Ibrox side became increasingly frustrated as they failed to break through the organised and hard working ‘Well defence, the Steelmen had a great chance to score on the counter-attack.
Campbell again did the spade work releasing Cole who carried the ball towards the Rangers’ box before playing in Long. Although the angle was tight he failed to test McGregor firing his shot into the side netting.
With 20 minutes remaining and the frustrations extending to the home stands, Gerrard sent on top goal scorer Alfredo Morelos. ‘Well then made a positive change when Jermaine Hylton took over from the tiring Long.
Morelos’ only chance came when he latched on to a though ball but closely marshalled by Hartley the Columbian’s touch was gathered by Gillespie.
Rangers finally grabbed the eventual winner after 79 minutes. Helander threw himself in front of Mugabi to nod Tavernier’s corner beyond the diving Gillespie and inside the ‘keeper’s right had post.
Sherwin Seedorf immediately replaced Mugabi as Motherwell pressed Rangers for the closing stages in search of an equaliser.
With five minutes additional time indicated it was the Rangers’ fans who were disgruntled and screaming for the final whistle as the home side hung on to their slender lead.
‘Well now look to the visit of Kilmarnock on Wednesday to overtake the Ayrshire side and move back into third place.
Spartans trip for Well in SWPL1
Sunday 27 October 2019
It’s a trip to Edinburgh on Sunday for Motherwell in SWPL1, as Donald Jennow’s side take on near-challengers Spartans.
After enduring defeat to Glasgow City in midweek as the league giants went for the win that would give them the title, the women of steel now face a side they’re chasing to try and finish above in the league.
Kick-off is at 1pm at Ainslie Park. Adult entry is £5, concessions £3 and Under 16s go for free.
Spartans – fifth in SWPL1 – 20 points
Motherwell – sixth in SWPL1 – 18 points
Head to head
Motherwell are looking to claim back fifth spot in the league with a victory, albeit knowing their opponents still have two games in hand as the season races to its close.
The two sides have faced each other five times since the first meeting in 2017, which finished 4-3 to Spartans in the SWPL Cup.
Victory for then-second-tier Motherwell in the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup semi-final last October was a hugely significant win for the team, setting up a place in the final against Hibernian.
In the league this campaign, Spartans were 3-1 winners on Motherwell’s last trip east, with a 0-0 draw at Ravenscraig last time out.
Spartans were also 5-0 SWPL Cup winners in Motherwell earlier this campaign.
WHAT THEY SAID
“This is a chance for us to put the disappointment of the last few weeks behind us and finish the season strongly,” head coach Jennow said.
“We’ve had to come up against all of the top four in our last five matches, so we have to ensure that doesn’t take its toll.
“Spartans are also strong, as we’ve found out this season. But we know realistically we need to get a positive result to have a chance of finishing above them in the table.”
Live commentary available from Ibrox
Sunday 27 October 2019
Wherever you are, you can listen to live audio commentary from Rangers v Motherwell on Sunday.