MOTHERWELL’S hopes of winning at Ibrox for the first time in 15 years were dashed as the SPL leaders suffered a ‘giant killing’ at the hands of Third Division Rangers.
A win would have put Motherwell into the quarter finals of the Scottish Communities League Cup and the omens looked good as Stuart McCall as able to name the same side who had played against Aberdeen, while Ian Black failed to recover from a hamstring injury for the home side.
Rangers were obviously keen to make a point as they faced SPL opposition for the first time since being demoted to the bottom tier of Scottish football looked and almost broke through in the first minute but Francisco Sandaza just failed to convert Fraser Aird‘s cross.
Well’ recovered their composure and Neil Alexander was called into action from Tom Hateley’s 25-yard drive.
A clash of heads forced Sandaza and Shaun Hutchinson to seek lengthy treatment as while the Spaniard was unable to continue, the ’Well defender eventually had a horrific head wound patched up sufficiently to be able to return to the field.
Both goalkeepers were called into action, Darren Randolph comfortably stopping a Lee McCulloch shot from 12 yards and then Alexander finding reward coming from risk as he was able to make a successful challenge as Nicky Law attempted to round him.
It was honours even at half-time but just five minutes into the second period and Rangers took the lead as Dean Shiels crossed for McCULLOCH to head into the net.
The hosts were keen for a second after Aird flashed a shot across the face of goal they got one in 56 minutes, Anestis Argyriou’s cut back finished off by a low volley from Shiels.
Hateley must have thought he had pulled one back with a free kick across goal, but with the ball sure to be swinging in at the back post Alexander pulled off a brilliant save down to his left to deny him.
‘Well’s luck continued to go downhil as referee Calum Murray decided McCulloch swinging his arm into the face of Adam Cummins was worth no more than a free kick.
Henrik Ojaama also failed to get the better of Alexander and ’Well will have to wait for another day for their first win in Govan since 1997.
Motherwell will need to pick themselves up for the second half of their Old Firm double header on Saturday as current SPL champions Celtic arrive at Fir Park.
Rangers: Alexander, Argiriou, Cribari, Perry, Wallace, McCulloch, Faure, MacLeod, Sandaza (Hutton 24), Shiels (Crawford 75), Aird (McKay 81). Subs not used: Gallacher, Stella.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell (Francis-Angol 65), Hutchinson, Kerr, Cummins, Law, Hateley (Murphy 64), Humphrey (Daley 72), Lasley, Ojamaa, Higdon. Subs not used: Hollis, Ramsden.
Referee: Calum Murray.