RANGERS under-20s recorded their fifth competitive defeat on the bounce despite dominating against Motherwell at the Excelsior Stadium this afternoon.
The Light Blues were in control for the vast, vast majority of the game, but chances were at an extreme premium with the Steelmen taking theirs when they were gifted a penalty with 65 minutes on the clock.
On his first start for the under-20s, new signing Mehki McLeod was involved in so much that was good about Rangers on what was a bitterly cold afternoon in Lanarkshire, and the first opportunity of the afternoon was of his invention.
Breaking away down the left, McLeod cut a great ball across for Ryan Hardie who was being pressed hard by the ‘Well defence, but he found the incoming Josh Jeffries who arrived on Hardie’s ball just shy of the six-yard line, but he fired his shot wide when it seemed easier to score.
The ‘home’ side were wasteful in possession, and a loose pass in midfield was picked up by Dylan Dykes who strode forward in his inimitable fashion before playing a neat one-two with Hardie just inside the area.
Dykes’ shot cannoned off the post and into the path of once again the incoming Jeffries, and with goalkeeper PJ Morrision grounded following Dykes’ effort, Jeffries had an unguarded net to hit but he fired over as yet another chance went a-begging.
Ryan Hardie is a constant menace to every team he faces, and after bursting into the area, he saw his route to goal crowded out by a number of claret and amber shirts but he still managed to somehow chip out a shot on goal although Morrison was equal to it.
That was as good as it got in an otherwise chance-shy half, and the second period continued in much the same manner.
Dykes and McLeod both had chances to shoot from distance, but both efforts were wide and high respectively as Rangers struggled to carve open what was a tight ‘Well defence.
Motherwell themselves were hardly carving open the ‘Gers defence with ease either, but they were handed the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot when David Brownlie bundled over Jake Hastie inside the are after the Steelman had driven into the area.
Up stepped Ross MacLean to take the kick and he dispatched the ball well into the corner, sending Robby McCrorie the wrong way in the process.
There was concern for Rangers late-on as Ross McCrorie went down with a head injury, meaning he had to go off, and having used all three substitutes, the visitors were forced to see out the rest of the game with 10 men.
Despite that, Scott Roberts ought to have leveled matters with just a few minutes left after he was slipped in by Hardie, but Morrison produced an excellent save low to his left to deny him, before the numbers were evened up in injury time as goalscorer MacLean saw a second yellow card for a foul on Roberts.
RANGERS: Robby McCrorie, Sinnamon, White, Ashmore (Lyon, 74), Brownlie, Ross McCrorie, Jeffries (Gibson, 69), Dykes, Hardie, Thompson, McLeod (Roberts, 61).
SUBS NOT USED: Wright, Lang, Currie, Brandon
MOTHERWELL: Morrison, McMillan, Livingston, Maguire, Watt, Campbell, MacLean, Turnbull, Falconer, Hastie, Leitch.
SUBS: Long, Scott, Guthrie, Moore, Leighton.