RANGERS produced a stunning late comeback to defeat Motherwell and reach round five of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Trailing by a Louis Moult goal-to-nil, Kenny Miller struck twice in the last five minutes to stun the Steelmen and put Gers into the hat for tomorrow’s draw at the Excelsior Stadium.
Mark Warburton’s boys began the brighter in the contest, with returning captain Lee Wallace seeing a shot deflected wide before Miller couldn’t sort his feet out to get a shot on a Michael O’Halloran cross following a lung-bursting run from the former St Johsntone man down the right flank.
Miller then struck the top of the crossbar as he got away from Ben Heneghan to meet an Andy Halliday free-kick from out on the right flank, but the visitors had clearly set out to frustrate Gers, and they were doing exactly that with chances soon drying up and much of the play coming in midfield from the Light Blues in front of the Well defence.
O’Halloran went down under a challenge from Steven Hammell on the 37-minute mark inside the box with the Ibrox crowd convinced they should have been awarded a penalty, and TV replays seemed to suggest there was contact between the veteran full-back and the pacey attacker.
The second half began in much the same manner with Motherwell keeping their tight defensive structure, but the 58th minute saw the game burst into life as firstly a blistering O’Halloran run into the area from midfield saw him bring a save out of Craig Samson, while on the other flank, Barrie McKay skinned Richard Tait and cut the ball back only to see Hammell there to hack the ball away before it could reach a plethora of blue shirted players at the back post waiting to tap the ball home.
At the other end, the introduction of Scott McDonald was always likely to bring more of a threat from the Steelmen, and he brought out a smart stop from Wes Foderingham high to his left with a 25-yard drive.
Josh Windass was introduced on the 63-minute mark to try and inject some more life into proceedings, and after a mazy run through the middle of the park, he played a one-two with O’Halloran before lashing a shot just wide of Samson’s right stick.
As the half was progressing though, Motherwell were coming into the tie more and more, and they took the lead after 74 minutes through talisman Louis Moult.
Chris Cadden was afforded too much space out on the right to curl a ball into the area and Moult was there to meet it with a free header to hand the visitors the advantage.
Rangers had to pour forward in search of an equaliser, and McKay played a neat ball over the top for Lee Hodson to meet with his head, but his effort on the stretch was gathered easily by the gloves of Samson.
Andy Halliday then took on a shot from 25-yards which deflected into the path of Miller, but Samson was alert to the danger and clawed the ball away to safety.
Miller wasn’t to be denied for much longer though, and he brought Rangers level with just five minutes of normal time remaining. Martyn Waghorn from deep played a stunning, inch-perfect ball into the area and with a diving header, Miller found the top corner to bring Gers level.
Immediately though, that advantage was almost surrendered as Rangers found themselves short at the back, with Foderingham forced into crucial, excellent saves firstly from Carl McHugh when he shot from the edge of the box and then McDonald as he met the rebound.
There was more drama to follow however in the last minute of normal time as Miller struck a sensational winner to send his side through to the next round. Caught pushing up into the midfield area, Well conceded possession to new man Emerson Hyndman, and his inch-perfect pass found Miller who was already making his run forward.
He still had to beat Samson – and he duly did to send Ibrox wild with delight and dreaming once more of what will hopefully be a glorious run all the way to the final.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Hodson, Kiernan, Hill, Wallace; Halliday, Toral (Windass, 63), Holt (Hyndman, 72); O’Halloran (Waghorn, 71), Miller, McKay.
SUBS NOT USED: Gilks, Forrester, Senderos, Bates.
MOTHERWELL: Samson, Tait, Hammell, Heneghan, McManus, McHugh, Moult, Cadden (McMillan, 81) Lasley, Chalmers (McDonald, 63) Clay.
SUBS NOT USED: Brill, Ainsworth, Bowman, Ferguson, Campbell.
ATTENDANCE: 31, 921.