Motherwell 2 - 2 Rangers: Murty's men battle back to earn draw
Not since 2000 have the Ibrox side suffered three successive defeats in the top flight and it would have blighted the manager’s long-term prospects if they had repeated that folly yesterday. But a fiery half-time team talk inspired a much-needed comeback as two quick-fire goals allowed them to salvage a point and a modicum of pride.
“You have to take yourself away and compose yourself to really think about what you’re going to say because you can spiral them up or spiral them down,” said Murty. “You can get them back or lose them quite easily.
“All I said was, ‘you know that’s not the level you need to be at’. The rest of the stuff I said will remain between us, but the reaction I got to that team talk and their own disappointment is very pleasing for me personally.
“It’s reflective of the squad as a whole that they took it as men, came out with a really good response, didn’t sulk, didn’t hide and stood up in the second half. I challenged them to show more accountability and be on the front foot. They did that.”
• READ MORE: Motherwell 2 - 2 Rangers: How the players rated
They needed to up their game significantly, though, having been bullied and bettered by their hosts throughout the first half.
Motherwell started positively, full of energy and belief as they took the game to Rangers. Pressing hard and playing with fluency and great awareness, their physicality completely rattled the league’s second best team.
“We didn’t deal with their threat in the first period well enough,” added a frustrated Murty. “Even though the prep was there and we understood what was going to happen, we simply didn’t deal with what they threw at us. Two balls into our box that we didn’t defend well enough and you find yourselves two goals down and it’s not a surprise, it’s exactly what we showed them would happen. We quite simply didn’t deal well enough with what they were trying to do. They are very effective at it but we were far too passive, so no surprise.”
The opener came in the eighth minute when Russell Martin bundled Chris Cadden to the deck in the box and Curtis Main sent Wes Foderingham the wrong way from the spot.
There was a purpose to the Motherwell play that left Rangers wobbling and, as they desperately sought a foothold, Stephen Robinson’s team kept at them and made it 2-0 in the 16th minute. Another ball into the danger area was picked up by Main, who used his strength and greater determination to fend off Martin and slip a ball through for Allan Campbell, who took a touch before slotting low into the corner of the net.
At that stage all was well for the home side. Rangers just couldn’t get close enough to them and when they did, the tackles were either non-existent or weak.
In fact, it was Motherwell who came closest to another goal, Cadden foiled by the bar in the 30th minute and that was something they would later rue as Rangers staged their second-half revival.
If the gauntlet had been thrown down by their gaffer at half-time, the gloves were, quite literally, off for Daniel Candieas in the 49th minute, but it was his colleague James Tavernier who reduced the deficit.
Marauding forward, he was clattered by Elliott Frear in the 51st minute and while Motherwell protested vehemently, the penalty was awarded and the full-back got up to send the effort past Trevor Carson.
Two minutes later parity was restored as Jamie Murphy took possession and cut inside. Making the most of hesitancy in the Motherwell challenges, he showed composure and skill to find the necessary space and pick his spot as he fired in his side’s second goal.
It ignited something in the Rangers side and they tried to find the winner deep into the dying minutes, but Motherwell had worked too hard to throw it all away.