It’s flag day at Ibrox Stadium and a huge sense of anticipation for everyone to finally celebrate the success of our 55th title. But in many ways that is not the most important thing from today, three points is up for grabs and a chance to start to kick on domestically. A victory today could stretch our league at the top of the table but we meet a Motherwell side high on confidence who also know a win could propel them up the top also.
There is also a part of me that is happy to get closure on last season and light the spark for this one ahead. Domestically we have done fine without ever finding the consistent levels we are used too. That will hopefully begin to be rectified and there is of course circumstances to that, we have been unlucky in injuries amongst other issues.
I called for freshness this week and that has happened today, partly by design and partly by default. Jack Simpson starts with Leon Balogun dropping to the bench. Otherwise the defence is the same as the one which finished the game on Thursday. McGregor is behind them and to refresh we go Borna Barisic, Connor Goldson and James Tavernier joining the previously mentioned Simpson.
The midfield is Steven Davis and Glen Kamara, Joe Aribo plays one deeper rather than in the forward line and John Lundstram drops to the bench. It’s all change in attack as injured Ryan Kent is out and Alfredo Morelos drops to the bench. Kemar Roofe starts as our focal point in the attack flanked by Scott Wright and the lively Fashion Sakala. So four changes from Lyon and perhaps the freshness we need.
Motherwell are on a bit of a run and seem to have unearthed a few gems in Kevin Van Veen and Kaiyne Woolery. Those two will have to be watched along with Tony Watt who always works like his life depends upon it against us. They will play to break when they can and no doubt sit deep, but will be a real threat and we will have to be on our game.
I’m looking forward to this however, freshness in attack with Wright and Sakala who bring a raw pace and skillset as well as a determination hopefully to take their chance. At some point we have to hit form so hopefully it can be today and as ever I remain positive it’s about us first and foremost.
Let’s hope for a big performance and the three points.
The flag is raised for 55, now time to go for 56.
First half action –
4 mins – CHANCE! Long racking pass from Connor Goldson and Scott Wright’s effort is lifted over.
10 mins – CHANCE! Watt is in as Simpson dithers, he rounds McGregor but Goldson blocks and we get away with it.
Straight up the other end and a long strike by Fashion is tipped over by Kelly, a great effort.
11 mins – GOAL! From that corner, Aribo flicks on and Fashion heads into the roof of the net brilliantly. A crazy 90 seconds but we are ahead! 1-0 Rangers
19 mins – CAUTION – McGinlay is booked for a wild tackle on Aribo.
20 mins – Shot by Davis loops into Kelly’s hands.
21 mins – Sakala shoots and Kelly gets down but it’s cleared off the line, Fashion is lively!
24 mins – Roofe shoots but held by Kelly.
36 mins – Great build up and it drops to Tavernier who’s left foot shot is easily saved, good work by Aribo and Scott Wright.
37 mins – CAUTION- Rangers dither again in area and McGregor catches. Van Veen goes into the book for a kick at the keeper.
38 mins – More pressure from Rangers as Wright turns and shoots tamely wide, but the play is good and we look a lot better in attack.
40 mins – CAUTION – Manager of Motherwell Graham Alexander goes into the book, presumably for something he said.
HT – Rangers 1 Motherwell 0
Summary – A good first half. Lot of really good movement and passing a lot better. Motherwell are, as expected, playing very deep and Rangers have had a lot of efforts. A nice goal from the corner gives us a lead but it’s the play of Aribo and movement of Roofe, Wright and Fashion which has impressed me.
It should be more than one but with that the danger of Motherwell has been apparent but more due to hesitance of our defending rather than anything else. A few times we have let it bounce and Watts chance comes from a long ball which somehow evades Simpson. He looks nervous and crowd are clearly nervous of him which is also concerning.
Next goal crucial, easy thing to say, because if we get it then I fancy a few more. We need to be on it however as Motherwell are capable.
So far so good.
2nd half action
47 mins – Aribo cuts in and drills it across for Roofe who slides it over, that was a real chance.
51 mins – Aribo shoots high and wide as Rangers are guilty of trying to walk it in.
54 mins – A great chance as Aribo plays it through for Fashion but he is rash and blazes it wide.
60 mins – Tav shot come cross tipped over.
67 mins – GOAL – 1-1 and it’s awful defending as O’Hara walks through and ball breaks to Woolery who stabs home.
75 mins – Subs Wright and Fashion off, Morelos and Bacuna on.
78 mins – Bacuna Drifts in and shoots wide.
81 mins – Arfield replaces Davis.
Full time – Rangers 1 Motherwell 1
Extremely poor result from a game we were so much in control of. Trying to overplay in front of goal cost us and woeful defending for that equaliser is so frustrating.
Something isn’t quite right and it’s certainly not clicking for Rangers yet. That’s disappointing and today is a huge opportunity missed for Rangers. Motherwell were always likely because we don’t look solid and the games we would grind out last season. That’s not good enough at all.
Rangers need to be better and they need to be more ruthless in front of goal. The front line that was so effective drifted out of it and when we have that pressure we have to make it count.
Points dropped and a disappointing day that threatened so much more.