Motherwell manager Graham Alexander had to endure a Halloween nightmare at Fir Park this afternoon, losing 6-1 to Rangers after Bevis Mugabi had fired the ‘Well in front early on – before Alexander’s side capitulated under near-constant pressure from the Gers.
The Steelmen made were forced into changing the side up a little from the midweek draw with St Mirren as Mugabi replaced the injured Juhani Ojala, Mark O’Hara took over from Liam Grimshaw and Kaiyne Woolery was replaced by Jordan Roberts.
Motherwell v Rangers.
— Motherwell FC (@MotherwellFC) October 31, 2021
Despite parts of Fir Park having been underwater following torrential rain, the Motherwell staff done a fantastic job of clearing the water and getting the game on – with the deluge finally coming to an end shortly before kick-off.
Rangers took control of the early stages of the game, James Tavernier having the first chance of the afternoon when his long-range striker was comfortably held by Liam Kelly.
However, the Gers’ recent habit of conceding early goals continued when Bevis Mugabi bundled the ball home after Solholm’s initial header from a corner was saved by Allan McGregor.
The visitors continued to dominate proceedings after falling behind, leaving Motherwell camped in their own half for spells, but Rangers’ inability to really test Liam Kelly summed up their performance in the opening 25 minutes.
It took until just before the 30th minute before Kelly was forced into action, showing great reactions to deny Joe Aribo after the Nigerian burst into the ‘Well box before getting an effort on goal.
Motherwell came close to grabbing a second goal as the first-half ticked away, Tony Watt inches away from getting on the end of Roberts’ ball across goal and diverting it past McGregor.
With only two minutes left in the opening 45, Rangers drew level as birthday boy James Tavernier drilled home a low volley beyond Liam Kelly to take the wind out of Motherwell’s sails.
Motherwell must have been wondering what was happening a minute or two later when they found themselves 2-1 down – Tavernier turning provider for Fashion Sakala to head home and turn the game on its head in injury time.
Both sides started the second 45 with the same XI that ended the first, and Rangers started off by taking control of the game again.
Motherwell’s defence looked to be on the ropes, struggling to clear their lines and gifting possession to the Gers in dangerous areas of the pitch and making life difficult for themselves.
There was a real lack of intensity from both sides after the restart though, the pace of the game fallin through the floor as Rangers looked happy to move the ball around in midfield while Motherwell looked content with the ball being in front of their banks of bodies.
Soon after the hour it was 3-1, Sakala getting his second of the atfernoon and appearing to put the result beyond doubt when his strike from the edge of the area was deflected into the net.
Motherwell’s afternoon went from bad to worse five minutes later when, having already picked up a booking, Stephen O’Donnell was shown a red card after a late challenge on Calvin Bassey, leaving referee Nick Walsh with no option but to send him off.
Rangers were really starting to hit their stride, and the Light Blues added a fourth through Glen Kamara on 75 minutes; the Finn lashing the ball home from distance as Motherwell’s afternoon very quickly descended into farce.
With less than five minutes left, Sakala grabbed his hat-trick, knocking home Steven Davis’ cross at the back-post.
The scoring wasn’t done there, substitute Kemar Roofe making in 6-1 in injury-time with the Motherwell fans already streaming for the exits.
Graham Alexander will now have some real questions to ask of his side after the manner of the defeat, having coped well with everything Rangers had in the opening 40 minutes before a staggering collapse after the break.
Motherwell: Kelly, O’Donnell, Solholm, Mugabi, McGinley, Goss, Slattery, O’Hara, Shields, Roberts, Watt
Subs: Fox, Carroll, Lamie, Maguire, Woolery, Van Veen, Grimshaw
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey, Arfield, Davis, Kamara, Aribo, Fashion Jr, Morelos.
Subs: McLaughlin, Lundstram, Hagi, Roofe, Wright, Patterson, Simpson.
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