The Betfred Cup Semi Final against Motherwell ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat for Rangers against Motherwell. Rangers were poor on the day, playing into Motherwell’s hands in many situations, and some lenient refereeing meant that the Steelmen were able to turn the game into a real battle. Motherwell rode their luck in terms of chances missed by Rangers and challenges which should have been punished more severely, but when it came to the crunch, they had a little more composure for their 2 goals than we managed all game.
The scene was set in the first minute. A long ball by Cardoso was flicked on to Windass by Morelos. The wide player was through, but his shot was extremely weak. It was a great chance so early in the game, but summed up how it was going to go for us.
Rangers started the game intent on scoring early, but the final ball was often lacking. Crosses from wide wouldn’t find the target, and some nice passes over the top from Pena or Dorrans just didn’t have quite enough. The next big chance came from good work by Morelos. His determination saw him win the ball on the edge of the box, and his left footed shot was just wide.
Motherwell were making the game physical. An early challenge on Cardoso by Bowman saw the forward catch the defender with an elbow. Peter Hartley was very lucky not to see red after a wild challenge on Morelos. A lot of forward play or counters were broken up by fouls. This slowed the game down, and saw too many long balls being played from Rangers.
After a set piece, Candeias found himself on the left for 10 minutes. It was the best spell of the match for Rangers in terms of pressure. Every time the ball went to the Portuguese winger, he had the measure of Kipre, and a couple of his crosses were very unlucky not to result in a chance. From one, some good play by Pena on the edge of the box led to a shot for Morelos which was beaten out by the keeper. Another saw some good link up and a Windass shot which was easily held. The Englishman will feel he could have hit that much better.
Some good play on the right led to a free kick. Declan John whipped the ball in and Alves met it, but headed over when he should have scored.
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Motherwell are always a threat from set pieces, and they almost opened the scoring in the first half. A corner wasn’t dealt with, and fell to Kipre 10 yards out in space. His shot was blocked on the line by Jack, and Alnwick then somehow scrambled to prevent Hartley from knocking it in.
From a Motherwell corner, Rangers created their last chance of the half, with a great break from Windass finding Candeias. His cross was excellent, but the diving header from John went just wide.
The second half started with Rangers creating chances. The first of these fell to Morelos, as Pena’s strength got the ball through to him. His shot was blocked by the defender. Again, Pena’s running and strength led to a great chance for Windass, and the winger saw his effort saved when it seemed easier to score.
At this point, my son turned to me and said “they’re going to score, we’ve missed too many chances”. And sadly, he was right. A corner from the left was missed by Alnwick, and blocked on the line by Jack again, but this time Moult followed it in to finish. The goal was certainly against the run of play, but poorly defended overall.
Rangers seemed to let the goal, and the poor refereeing decisions being made throughout, get to them. Decisions on the ball became poor and any sort of composure left us. Nemane, brought on for Pena, found space on the right and cut it back, but the shot from Candeias was wild. The Portuguese winger also blazed another shot over from a great break when a pass would have been the better option.
On the 66th minute, Bowman put yet another elbow into Cardoso, and it led to the defender having a broken nose. The reaction to that saw both managers sent to the stand as the game wasn’t even stopped as blood poured down Cardoso’s face. He was replaced by McCrorie, but not long after that, it was 2-0. A poor clearance saw McCrorie caught out, and Moult showed a moment of class to lob Alnwick who had been caught off his line. In a game where there wasn’t much football being played, it was a rare moment of composure.
After that, Rangers were chasing the game and getting caught up in petty arguments, and Motherwell shut up shop. A late flashpoint should have seen reds for Moult and Alves as they kicked out at each other, but the referee was lenient yet again. Morelos had a header easily saved by the keeper, but aside from that the chances were slim.
Rangers didn’t do enough on the day, regardless of things not falling for them. The players allowed Motherwell to dictate the style of the match, especially after the first goal was scored. I don’t believe the scoreline was a fair reflection of the match, but you can’t miss that many chances at 0-0 and expect to get away with it. There’s been some signs of improvement of late, and the first half yesterday looked like we may continue that, but the way the game ended was very disappointing.
Alnwick; Tavernier, Alves, Cardoso (McCrorie 67), John; Candeias, Jack, Dorrans, Windass; Pena (Nemane, 60); Morelos.
SUBS: Foderingham, Gomes, Herrera, Hodson, Holt.
Carson, Tait, Hartley, Cadden, McHugh, Moult, Bowman (Fisher, 90) Rose, Dunne, Kipre, Campbell (Bigirimana, 72).
SUBS: Griffiths, Hammell, Grimshaw, Frear, Tanner.