Rangers reaction: Philippe Clement exasperated by new injuries as Motherwell bemused by VAR - 'they have benefited from incidents like that'

Ibrox club prevailed 2-0 but fitness issues continued to hamper manager

Rangers manager Philippe Clement admits that he is taking it “day by day” with the club’s ever-growing injury list after defender Connor Goldson joined nine other players on the treatment table in the wake of the 2-0 Christmas Eve win over Motherwell.

Goldson limped off holding his groin with just minutes remaining at Fir Park and is now a doubt for Wednesday’s match against Ross County at Ibrox. Clement already has a host of players sidelined by injury – defenders Borna Barisic and Ben Davies, midfielders Nicolas Raskin, John Lundstram, Tom Lawrence, Ryan Jack and Jose Cifuentes plus forwards Danilo and Kemar Roofe – and the Belgian is clearly exasperated by the number of key squad members unavailable to him.

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"Everyone is asking these questions,” Clement said on the injury situation and whether players will be back for the visit of the Staggies. “I'm a little bit fed up but I need to speak about it. I don't know, we'll see the day after and then it's another game again. We take it day by day what the situation is and what the fitness of the players is. It's difficult to plan in advance so I'm living from day go day.”

Rangers' Todd Cantwell celebrates making it 2-0 against Motherwell at Fir Park.Rangers' Todd Cantwell celebrates making it 2-0 against Motherwell at Fir Park.
Rangers' Todd Cantwell celebrates making it 2-0 against Motherwell at Fir Park.

On Goldson specifically, Clement commented: “We will see tomorrow. He felt something at the end of the game but we will see tomorrow.”

Clement was more pleased by his team’s performance in treacherous conditions at Motherwell. In a match played in strong winds and rain, Rangers raced into a 2-0 lead through a fourth-minute opener from Kieran Dowell before Todd Cantwell made it 2-0 on 16 minutes. The hosts – now 15 matches without a win – did not carry much threat thereafter as Rangers cut the gap to Celtic at the top of the Premiership to two points.

"In the circumstances of today, we played a really good first half with good attacking football,” said Clement. “Two good goals, several good chances. In the second half, the wind was even harder and the difficulty was that it was really turning in the stadium. It was difficult to play the good quality that we want to bring. As long as there is a two-goal difference then the other team always feels it is in a game, and they fought and put a lot of balls in the box. We were really concentrated and good in the duels. I don't think they had one shot on goal from the Motherwell side. We controlled the game well and we got three deserved points.

“For me, the most pleasing thing is that despite having nine injured players, the structure stays, with two players in midfield who are not used to playing there. You don't see the difference. The team is really focused and concentrated to do the job together. Everybody knows what we are doing, we keep clean sheets and we keep winning games by being dominant.”

Rangers' Connor Goldson came off late with an injury.Rangers' Connor Goldson came off late with an injury.
Rangers' Connor Goldson came off late with an injury.

It was another tough day at the office for Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell, who lamented the start from his team. “The first few minutes defined the game,” he said. “Call it what you will – fragility, soft underbelly, whatever you want to call it – but for the first goal it’s harder to concede one than it is to retain the ball and play it into a better area. The biggest frustration is that we addressed that and identified it before the game. It is so naive from our point of view.

"For the second goal, we know Cantwell is good around the box but I call it emergency defending – put your body on the line for your team. We showed a great reaction in the second half and created some moments. I am confident that these players can turn it around. I’ve seen the evidence that they can pick up a good number of points at this level. I don’t think they’ve become bad football players but at times in games, they’ve become bad decision makers.”

Kettlewell was left bemused, however, by the decision not to award his team a penalty in the second half, claiming striker Mika Biereth was pulled by Cyriel Dessers in the penalty box. There was a VAR check for another potential penalty just before that incident when Brodie Spencer tangled with Ridvan Yilmaz, which Kettlewell accepted was not a spot kick.

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“The Brodie Spencer penalty claim might have been a soft one – there was only marginal contact,” added Kettlewell. “But the pull on Mika Biereth’s arm [by Dessers] when he looks favourite to get a touch at the back post, I’ve seen them given as penalties constantly and Rangers have benefited from a number of incidents like that. Are we checking them? I’m not sure that one was checked.”