Rangers show mettle as SPL leaders Motherwell suffer loss at Ibrox
IBROX might have been going potty with joy – and relief – but Ally McCoist had little problem keeping a lid on his celebrations in the wake of surely one of his most satisfying victories as Rangers manager.
His team not only saw off Motherwell 2-0 in the third round of the Scottish Communities League Cup, they gave them a bit of a hiding. Stuart McCall’s team came here as favourites and left beleaguered; top of the SPL, but humbled.
McCoist was calm in the aftermath. “We can’t get carried away,” he said. “This is a small step on a long, long road. We have miles and miles to go and I make no apology for saying that.”
No matter what McCoist said about keeping the reaction low-key, nobody in blue will listen to him. This was a victory that meant an awful lot to them, a first crack at an SPL side since their ignominious collapse and a resounding win.
“I’m really satisfied because we warranted a win. We scored two top-class goals,” added McCoist after second-half efforts by Lee McCulloch and Dean Shiels, “and it was a wee indicator to themselves and to the fans that they can play against teams from higher divisions.
“We got out of the traps really well in both halves and we set a good tempo and were very direct. We had more shots on goal and had more balls in the box than we’ve had for a while. I hope the players can look at the game and see the reasons for the victory.
“You can learn things in defeat, but you can also learn things in victory and there was a reason why we won.”
The reason could be boiled down to a simple truth. In the modern age of bewilderingly scientific technology that makes the analysis of football matches something akin to a Nasa mission, games like this can sometimes come down to something more straightforward, like one team wanting it more than the other. That was the case here.
Rangers, as McCoist, said, “came out of the traps” very quickly. They carried themselves with more confidence than Motherwell, created more chances and looked more up for the battle. McCall admitted as much. “Rangers never played anything like that [this season],” he said.
“But I was aware of what we’d face. Rangers were good and hungry and we lost too many individual battles. Nobody can be proud of their performance apart from Darren Randolph, who made some good saves. We had to be
at our best and we were
This is a recurring theme for Motherwell. They haven’t won at Ibrox in 15 years and last night was deemed their biggest chance of the lot. Rangers had been stripped bare in the summer and in recent weeks have lost even more players. David Templeton and Andy Little are major losses and Ian Black was missing also. Early in the game, they also lost Francisco Sandaza after an awful collision with Shaun Hutchinson. Sandaza received a bad cut to his face and will be missing for a number of weeks. He went to hospital for an X-ray last night.
If Rangers had luck, then it came when referee Calum Murray failed to spot a
McCulloch elbow into the head of Adam Cummins. That was their big break and they made the most of it. This was a Rangers team totally unrecognisable from last season’s vintage, as well as being wholly alien to the weak side that has toiled in the Third Division. Dean Shiels was the game’s outstanding player, McCulloch was strong at the heart of the midfield and young
Fraser Aird, at only 17, was a big performer.
“I’m thrilled about the young lads,” said McCoist, name-checking Aird, Lewis MacLeod, Barrie McKay and Ross Perry. “They’ve given the place a lift. There’s nothing better than having our own talent in the team. It makes a difference.”
Some much-needed respite for the Rangers manager, then. For McCall, more of the same. Since he took over as Motherwell manager, his team’s aggregate score against the Ibrox side is 2-23, a woeful reflection on their inability to rise to occasions such as this.
“We came out for the second half and we gave the ball away,” said McCall. “We switched off for a corner and McCulloch does what he does best and attacks the ball in the air. The crowd was lifted. Their players had an extra yard in them after that. Give credit to Rangers and their support. They got behind their team and lifted them. I’m hugely disappointed for a group of players who can do a lot better.”
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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