IT WAS truly a game of two halves at Fir Park as Rangers managed to pull back a 2-0 lead from Motherwell’s grasp.
The home side started better and it showed as they found themselves two to the good within 15 minutes. The first a penalty and the second a great finish from Allan Campbell.
It didn’t get much better for the Gers in the first period but they mirrored the Steelmen’s opening in the second half. Again their first was a penalty, this time from the boot of James Tavernier for his eighth of the season. The second a well worked strike from Jamie Murphy who fired home from the edge of the box.
Despite good chances from both sides neither could find the killer third and the result put Rangers back into second ahead of the afternoon’s fixtures.
Chris Main provided a glance of the threat Motherwell could pose when he pulled away from the Gers defence inside five minutes to latch onto a through ball. The striker couldn’t maintain a complete connection though and his toe poke at the near post as he reached the by-line was dealt with by Wes Foderingham.
Main would have the early laugh though when he slotted home an eighth minute penalty, this time beating Foderingham as he sent him the wrong way. Russell Martin was adjudged to have pulled down Chris Cadden just inside the box as he and Main tried to link up.
Rangers responded by trying to match a fighting Steelmen side to battle their way into the box. Alfredo Morelos picked up a yellow card for his troubles as he and his fellow forwards struggled to create a real opening.
It was turning into a nightmare start for the Light Blues as the home side doubled their lead on 15 minutes. Main was involved again as he pushed James Tavernier off the ball in the build up to find scorer Allan Campbell with a neat short ball. He lined up one-on-one with Foderingham and side footed the ball past the Gers number one, who couldn’t make himself big enough to prevent the goal.
It took until the 24th minute for Trevor Carson to make his first save from a Rangers man. Jamie Murphy found himself in the right channel before he cut inside to fire a fizzing strike at the Lanarkshire side’s keeper. Carson had to be at full stretch to palm the ball away.
Alfredo Morelos had a pop next as his attempt to curl a shot into the top corner looked to be on target. But Cedric Kipre found himself in the right place to deflect the ball away from goal and out for a corner.
Motherwell were finding it too easy to get in behind the Gers backline and Cadden nearly bore the fruits of that when he cracked a great effort off the crossbar on 29 minutes. He skipped into the box with pace and managed to create the powerful strike from a tricky angle on the right of the box 10 yards out.
Martin saved his side from conceding a third on 37 minutes when he executed a perfect last gasp challenge on Campbell as he prepared to pull the trigger a few yards out. The Steelmen’s goalscorer had jostled his way into position with some tidy feet to give himself a good chance of beating Foderingham.
In Rangers next attack they had their second penalty cry of the half, this time Tom Aldred used his elbow to stop James Tavernier cross from the by-line.
Main went close just before the break as he tried to dip the ball under the bar from distance. He couldn’t quite get his accuracy right though as it whizzed just inches over to save the Gers blushes.
Within 10 minutes of the restart Rangers had drawn level with Motherwell in a spectacular turnaround – Murty’s men had come out fighting. First Declan John’s cross from the left evaded everyone and Daniel Candeias elected to leave it for Tavernier. The full-back was sandwiched between Elliot Frear and Ryan Bowman, the former’s tackle dragging the Gers captain to the ground. Nick Walsh pointed to the spot for the second time in the game and Tavernier thumped home the resulting spot-kick.
Then for Rangers second it was the work of Morelos out on the right which started the move. The Colombian used his strength to wrestle the ball from the Steelmen and spray it across field for Murphy. As ever the winger dropped his shoulder and moved across the edge of the box to put himself in a more central position. From there the former Motherwell man powered one low off his laces to beat Carson. His side were back on equal pegging.
It nearly didn’t last long as Main went straight up the other end and, with the help of a nick off Bruno Alves, saw his curled effort cannon off the apex of bar and post.
Candeias had a superb chance to put his team ahead for the first time in the game on 65 minutes. Josh Windass found the Portuguese with some good vision from his central set-up as he threaded a ball through the Motherwell defence to find both Candeias and Morelos running down on goal. The former Benfica man took it on though and Carson narrowed the angle to save well at feet.
Windass tested Carson twice in quick succession himself with around 20 minutes left. First he latched onto a cross from the right to go up with the keeper, nearly on the line, for a headed but Carson caught the short header he managed. Then the forward drove a low strike from range at the former Hartlepool keeper and he saved with little trouble.
RANGERS: Foderingham, Tavernier, Alves, Martin, John, Docherty, Dorrans, Candeias, Windass (Cummings 81’), Murphy, Morelos.
Subs not used: Alnwick, Hodson, Halliday, Miller, McCrorie, Goss.
Goals: Tavernier 51’ Murphy 55’
Yellow: Morelos 9’ Dorrans 57’
MOTHERWELL: Carson, Tait, Cadden, McHugh, Main, Frear (Hendrie 57’), Bowman (Petravicius 83’), Dunne, Aldred, Kipre, Campbell.
Subs not used: Griffiths, Grimshaw, Bigirimana, Newell, MacLean.
Goals: Main 8’ Campbell 15’