Motherwell were handed a tough lesson at Fir Park, losing to a dominant Rangers side 5-1.
Three first half goals put this one out of the Steelmen’s reach. Two James Tavernier penalty kicks sandwiched between a solo Jordan Jones effort had Rangers on easy street before Cedric Itten added a fourth and fifth for the Gers in the second half. George Edmundson’s own goal three minutes from time was little consolation on a difficult day for the home team.
This was Motherwell’s fourth game in 10 days. Not only that, but they were testing games, two Europa League ties away from home and a trip to Aberdeen facing Stephen Robinson’s side before this one.
It was always going to be an uphill battle and it didn’t start well. Bevis Mugabi handled the ball in the box after 12 minutes, Tavernier stepping up to dispatch a near-perfect penalty off the post and into the net.
Robinson’s men were doing their best to get on the ball and play but little was coming off in the final third. They were opened up via the counter-attack as they pushed forward, Jones racing through on goal with Trevor Carson. The Gers winger put his effort past his Northern Ireland teammate calmly as the 30th minute approached.
Tavernier all but ended the game before Bobby Madden’s half-time whistle. This time Liam Grimshaw handled the ball inside the area and Rangers’ captain made no mistake again from the spot.
Whilst a 3-0 deficit might have been harsh, Steven Gerrard’s side were certainly superior overall in the first 45. Only something truly extraordinary could save Motherwell from defeat in the second half.
Robinson clearly wasn’t keen to lie down, bringing on an extra attacker in Chris Long for the second 45. Barry Maguire created a chance for Mugabi on the hour mark, the versatile youngster teeing up a lovely cross but the Ugandan could only head over.
Rangers had chances to increase their advantage, Tavernier coming close to a hat-trick, his free-kick well saved by Carson. Eventually it would be the away team who would hit the next net, Itten finding space and blasting an effort high into the Well net after 75 minutes.
The Swiss striker would have another five minutes later, stroking the ball home after a corner wasn’t dealt with properly by the Well defence. A consolation was had, Edmundson putting one in his own net as Rangers’ defence froze.
Motherwell remain ninth after a difficult day at the office and here are three things we learned.
The Well and penalties
Motherwell have conceded 18 goals overall this term. Eight of them have been from the penalty spot, a pretty remarkable stat given the 2020/21 season has only just reached the end of September.
It’s a frustrating one for the claret and amber outfit as whilst they have been fairly solid from open play overall, cautions in the box have become a bugbear. They say these things level themselves out over the course of a season, but Robinson must wonder when it’s going to start doing so.
Demanding run comes to an end
Four games in 10 days for any squad is tough. But with Motherwell carrying several injuries and a small squad as it is, this run was always going to bring its challenges with the amount of energy needed.
There’s been positives for Well boss Robinson in this 10-day stretch, namely the terrific 3-0 success away to Aberdeen and penalty heroics in Coleraine. But he will be keen to get some proper rest for his player’s before going again next Friday away to Kilmarnock, hoping to forget this bad day at the office.
Beat the teams around you
A defeat to Rangers won’t define Motherwell’s season but getting wins over their next four opponents could be big for the Steelmen. Next up is Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, before have some time off ahead of their following encounter with St Mirren.
Ross County and Livingston come after that. If the Steelmen are to make strides towards that top six, picking up points in these matches will be paramount.