Two late Kenny Miller goals sent us through to the last 16 of the Scottish Cup where we’ll play Greenock Morton at Ibrox. After Motherwell took the lead with 15 minutes to go, it looked like Rangers would be exiting the Scottish cup at the earliest possible stage but a late resurgence knocked a dismayed Mark McGhee’s side out the cup.
Here’s a play by player analysis of what was another very hard fought win:
The Rangers number 1 was relatively quiet up until Louis Moult’s header in the 74th minute of which he could do little about from such close range. He made an excellent double save from Scott Macdonald beforehand. His distribution was excellent as usual. There’s a strong case for Wes being our player of the season so far and he is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to the club. Still only 26 (relatively young for a goalkeeper), surely it’s only a matter of time before we see potential suitors in for him. He is contracted until 2019.
The Northern Ireland international was frustrated throughout the opening stage of the season but has been given much more playing time in recent weeks. James Tavernier was suspended for Saturdays tie having being booked in last season’s semi-final and final, giving Hodson the starting jersey. Quite understated, Hodson goes about his business with minimal fuss but did give the ball away cheaply on a few occasions. Going forward isn’t his main strength but he showed some good interchanges with Michael O’Halloran in the first half. He should have done better with his shot over the bar following the penalty shout. This was Lee’s 11th start for the club and hopefully we see him improve as the season goes on.
Much has been made of Kiernan’s mistake up at St Johnstone but it’s worth noting that he had been playing excellent in the weeks running up to that game. However, you do always feel that he has a mistake in him despite looking composed and solid for most parts of the game. Louis Moult is in great form but Kiernan got caught ball watching and Motherwell’s number 9 sneaked in behind to punish him. Apart from that, the visitors didn’t have too many chances but needs to do better for the goal.
As contract talks continued this week, Clint Hill put in another admirable display at the weekend. At 38, pace is always going to be an issue but his reading of the game and determination is top notch. Motherwell did get in behind him in the later stages but that’s to be expected with a player of his age. We aren’t blessed with pace at the back so he gets exploited on occasions. He won a large percentage of his headers and was no nonsense with Motherwell’s attacks. He is a real leader on the park, organising not only the defence, but the rest of the team as well.
The skipper was back in action after a few weeks on the side-lines, having picked up an injury in the win over Inverness. His forward runs on the left were definitely missed against St Johnstone and Celtic. His link up play with Barrie McKay seems to be back to its best and the two were free flowing in the opening stages. They understand each other’s game terrifically and Wallace’s over lapping runs was a significant feature of our success last season. He will be disappointed letting the ball come in from his side for the Motherwell goal.
Halliday was been coming in for lots of criticism lately but kept his place in the team for Saturdays game. He does show flashes that he is capable of playing for Rangers at this level but needs to be doing it more often. He can be too sloppy at time and lacks dynamism and creativity. Saturday was one of his better games for a while, especially first half where he took charge of play for a good period in the game. He’ll always put the foot in for the team and kept the team charging forward after Motherwell scored.
Another who has come under fire, Holt is facing a serious battle to keep his Rangers starting jersey. He was preferred to Harry Forrester, Josh Windass and Emerson Hyndman, which shows the managers faith in him. He obviously has good positional awareness and is neat and tidy on the ball but seriously needs to get involved in the game more. When things aren’t going our way, you can see him go missing for long stages of the game. Had another quiet game on Saturday but link up play was good in patches.
Given his first start since signing on loan from Arsenal, Toral struggled to make any big impact on the game. He looked slightly shocked at the pace the match was being played at but showed more composure on the ball after the break. Has a nice left foot and should grow in confidence with more games.
Proving to be somewhat of an enigma, O’Halloran was given a surprise start amid talk of leaving the club on loan. This was only his 10th start of the season having been left behind in the pecking order. The 26-year-old looked sharp in the first half – his direct running causing Motherwell problems on the left. He should have won Rangers a penalty after beating 4 payers and being brought down in the box. The main criticism of MOH is that his final ball is lacking which was evident again against Motherwell. There is definitely good player there and with a run of games we might get the best out of him.
Having being linked with a move away all week, it was wondered if McKay would be unsettled for this game but infact you could say the opposite. The crowd gave him a great reception and he responded with a superb display. He looked brimming with confidence, beating defenders and taking shots on where possible. He was unlucky not to extend the lead late on with a couple of shots on goal. Kenny Miller was given the man of the match but McKay was consistency excellent throughout the 90 minutes. It’s crucial we keep hold of him because we don’t have any other player with that skill and guile.
What more can you say about this man? Time and time again he is the saviour of the team and the manager. Despite hitting the bar in the first half and failing to get on the end of a few crosses, he kept going until the whistle and found a way to get us through to the last 16. The first goal was a brave and thundering header – the second a cool and composed finish under enormous pressure. It’s always been said that Kenny is an instinct finisher; therefore you’d be forgiven for fearing the worst when he was given so much time to think about the second goal. A role model for all young Scottish footballers and a Rangers legend.
A surprise inclusion on the bench, Windass came on to help inject energy into the midfield and certainly did that. His running and directness caused Motherwell problems and helped open them up.
Another who will be frustrated not to have started, he came on to play a key role in the win, putting in a stunning cross for the equaliser.
The 20-year-old on loan from Bournemouth put in an impressive 20 minutes of play on his Rangers debut. He looked confident on the ball and didn’t seem fazed by what was at stake. His pass through for the winner was timed perfectly. An exciting talent who we look forward to seeing more of.
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