Stubborn Motherwell prove a point against Rangers

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Stubborn Motherwell Prove A Point Against Rangers
Rangers’ Cedric Itten celebrates scoring his side’s equaliser, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Andy Newport, PA

Cedric Itten netted his fourth goal in three games against Motherwell to rescue a point at Fir Park as Rangers missed out on equalling Jock Wallace’s post-war record run.

Steven Gerrard’s squad were looking to match the 16-game winning streak set by Wallace’s team back in 1973 – but could only muster a 1-1 draw.

Itten netted his first two Gers goals away to Well back in September and grabbed another as the stuffy Steelmen were edged out last month at Ibrox.

He produced another big moment to level up after Devante Cole had given Graham Alexander’s team the lead.

Frustrating as the dropped points are, Gers remain 21 points clear at the top and very much on course for the title.

But the point will mean a lot more to Motherwell.

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New Fir Park boss Alexander got his Well reign off to a reasonable start last week with a 1-1 draw away to St Mirren and another point means his side climb off the bottom on goal difference.

Alexander was forced to make two changes to the team he sent out in Paisley, with Robbie Crawford and Sherwin Seedorf coming in for the concussed Mark O’Hara and on-loan Gers winger Jake Hastie, who was barred from facing his parent club.

The visitors went with the same team that triumphed last week at Aberdeen but the sprightly look they had about them at Pittodrie did not last long in Lanarkshire.

Alexander’s predecessor Stephen Robinson found himself on the receiving end of some stinging flak from the Rangers support last month when he sent his team out at Ibrox without a striker in a bizarre 5-5-0 formation.

His replacement went with a more conventional approach this time round and the decision to play with three-up paid off in the 21st minute.

Frontman Tony Watt swapped passes with playmaker Liam Polworth as the former Celtic man drifted into space on the left hand side of the Light Blues’ box.

His low ball made its way past both Connor Goldson and Leon Balogun as Cole was left free to steer home the Steelmen’s first goal at home since their November 28 defeat to St Johnstone.

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Rangers reacted by stepping up their tempo. Borna Barisic dug out a cross after Ryan Kent sent the Croat racing to the byline but Alfredo Morelos’ glancing header drifted agonisingly wide.

Gerrard’s team were getting into decent positions but the quality was lacking, summed up when Glen Kamara almost cleared the Davie Cooper Stand with a wild effort on the back of some tidy build-up play.

Morelos was falling back into his recent bad habit of spending too much time in wider areas outside of the box, while Bevis Mugabi was sweeping up expertly the crosses Gers did deliver.

When Goldson was left clear to get his head on a Barisic corner 10 minutes’ into the second half, Cole saved Well with a goal-line clearance before Joe Aribo blazed over with a wild attempt moments later.

It was becoming a familiar pattern to last month’s clash between the teams as Rangers mounted wave after wave of attack in search of an equaliser.

Itten was Gers’ hero that day as he headed them back in front after Kemar Roofe’s equaliser and Gerrard hoped for a repeat as he replaced Ianis Hagi with the former St Gallen hitman.

The Ibrox boss held his head in his hands as Itten failed to react to James Tavernier’s knockdown after the skipper was brilliantly picked out by Kent at the back post.

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But Gerrard need not have worried as Itten showed why Motherwell are fast becoming his favourite opponent with 18 minutes left. Left unmarked at the back post, he powered home with his head as the out-of-sorts Barisic at last delivered a quality delivery.

Fellow substitute Jermain Defoe could have snatched the victory in stoppage time but could not find a way past former Gers keeper Liam Kelly.

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