Motherwell battled their way to well-earned point in a tight contest with Rangers, drawing with the league leaders 1-1.
A superb first half from Motherwell had them ahead at the break through a neat team goal finished by Devante Cole. Rangers threw wave after wave of attack forward and brought it back to 1-1 after 72 minutes as a point was gained.
Graham Alexander’s first home match in charge of the Steelmen was not one with expectation of victory. Against a Rangers side who have swept past just about everyone before them in the Premiership this season, positive signs may have been enough for many in the Well camp.
But Alexander didn’t buy into that rhetoric and his team started well, doing what they did during the 1-1 draw with St Mirren last week, pressing high. Rangers weren’t allowed to settle on the ball as Well looked to hit on the break.
Allan Campbell had an effort saved by Allan McGregor before the Rangers keeper was beaten after 26 minutes. A well-worked team goal featured several passes, Liam Polworth slipping in Tony Watt, who squared the ball to Cole, managing to bundle home the move he started.
It was just reward for what had been a great start for Alexander but Rangers would soon come close, Alfredo Morelos missing the inside of the post with a header by an inch as the clock hit 30 minutes. Despite the waves of Gers attacks late on, they didn’t create many clear opportunities.
That allowed Motherwell to head into the break ahead and set the stage for a huge second 45. It started the way the first ended though, Rangers piling on pressure as the home side were left pinned back. Connor Goldson had his header cleared off the line before the hour, shortly followed by a Joe Aribo effort that should have hit the target.
Alexander’s men had got 70 minutes at 1-0 but they were getting deeper with every Gers attack, Liam Kelly tested by a Goldson drive. Eventually they were beaten, Borna Barisic’s cross finding Itten who scored once again versus the Steelmen with 18 minutes to play.
Desperate times were calling for desperate measures as Motherwell swung for the fences to hold on for a point and move off bottom on goal difference, Kelly making a big stop in stoppage time. Here are three things we learned.
Contrast this Well display with the one on January 2 when they were swept aside by Hamilton 3-0. The one key difference was the 100% effort the Steelmen put into this game as they ran themselves into the ground.
As things got deeper, it was inevitable that Rangers would find a route to goal. But if Motherwell can implement the high press they did in the first half and combine with the resolute defending they showed in the second, they can think about moving out the relegation zone.
Last time out against Rangers, former manager Stephen Robinson’s approach was put under the spotlight. Many questioned his decision to go ultra-defensive with men behind the ball, but to his credit, it almost worked as Well had the lead for a long time at Ibrox.
Alexander went for something different, more attacking and disrupting Rangers’ rhythm. This was effective in the first half as they took the lead into the break but Rangers’ strength in depth proved key as substitutes made a big difference.
Testing his squad
It’s clear that Alexander is keen to assess all options in his squad as he settles in at Fir Park. Sherwin Seedorf started this match, his first start since August and only his eighth Premiership performance of the campaign.
Ross MacIver has been recalled from Morton and given a first claret and amber cameo of the term while new signing Steven Lawless was also given a quickfire debut from the bench.
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