The entire length of the Scottish Premiership separated the sides when Motherwell and Rangers kicked off on Sunday.
But after an engaging game, there was little to split the teams, with Devante Cole and Cedric Itten netting in a 1-1 draw.
New ‘Well boss Graham Alexander admitted that although his men would need to defend against the league leaders, he expected them to land some punches during the 90 minutes.
He only had to wait 20 minutes for his new charges to deliver their first blow, Cole sliding the ball past Allan McGregor to give the home side a deserved lead.
However, the new boss was denied steering Motherwell to their first league win over Rangers in 18 years when Cedric Itten nodded home the equaliser 18 minutes from time to give the sides a deserved point apiece.
Alexander, making his debut in the home dugout, made two changes from the side which earned a point at Paisley last week. With Mark O’Hara injured and Jake Hastie unable to face his parent club, Robbie Crawford and Sherwin Seedorf came into the starting line-up.
On loan ‘keeper Liam Kelly faces his first club, while Steven Lawless, on his return to Fir Park has to do with a place on the bench.
Steven Gerrard’s side, having dropped only four points in an almost invincible league run, started the game with the clear intention of taking full points to strengthen their position at the top of the table.
It was the home side, though, that made the more positive start and within four minutes Allan Campbell had wriggled his way to the edge of the box but his trundled shot was only enough to provide Allan McGregor with a comfortable save.
A series of corners and crosses from James Tavernier threatened to test the ‘Well rearguard but strict man-marking in the home box meant that Kelly was not called upon.
Motherwell’s plan of pressing Rangers further upfield forced the visitors to keep their central defenders 20 yards inside their own half. That allowed Seedorf and Tony Watt and the tireless Cole to keep the Gers’ defenders occupied.
And with 20 minutes played ‘Well cut open the Rangers’ defence as they opened the scoring.
Watt played a smart exchange with Liam Polworth at the corner of the box before working his way to the byline. His drive across the six-yard box found Cole, sliding in front of Campbell to force the ball over the line and put the home side one up.
The Ibrox side then had the majority of the possession towards the home box but on every occasion their ball into the box was blocked by the first ‘Well defender.
A final Tavernier corner in added-on time summed up the first half as it was easily cleared by a diligent ‘Well defence, leaving goalkeeper Kelly without a single save to make.
It took Rangers only seven minutes into the second half to finally test their former ‘keeper but it was routine for Kelly kneeling to gather Ryan Kent’s 20-yard drive.
Three minutes later the former Livingston ‘keeper was relieved to see Bevis Mugabi on the goal line to head away Conor Goldson’s netbound header.
As the half progressed the ‘Well players were being forced deeper into their own half and having to defend an increasing number of crosses into their goalmouth.
By the 70th minute, Alexander attempted to relieve some of that pressure making a double substitution bringing on attack-minded Ross Maciver and Lawless.
Almost immediately Kelly was forced to block Goldson’s shot. A goal was coming Rangers’ way and it finally arrived in the 72nd minute.
Another Barisic cross into the home box found Itten unmarked and looking in an offside position six yards from goal and his powerful header sped beyond Kelly for the equaliser.
With ten minutes remaining and the home goal under continuous assault, ‘Well changed to a back three Ricki Lamie replacing Polworth.
Both managers made further substitutions and it was Rangers’ veteran striker Jermain Defoe who had the final attempt at goal but his shot was firmly held by Kelly as both teams had to settle for a point.