Despite the midweek injury scares we were able to field a team with only one change from the winning team at Stranraer; Page replaced Saunders. Although the team seemed, on paper at least, to be strong enough to withstand the pressure we anticipated from Rangers there was some concern over the fitness of Craigan and Lasley.
We lined up with five across the back, Page strengthening the centre of defence, and crossed fingers as the game started. Motherwell were soon under the cosh and had an early warning of what was to come when Diouf failed to score with only the ‘keeper to beat. Our escape was short lived and the opener came in five minutes. Weiss sent in a cross from the left and Naismith met it and scored at the near post.
For the next twenty minutes it seemed that we might be overrun but we managed to keep them out and indeed, we then took charge for at least five minutes! Jones was fouled twice in as many minutes and Hateley delivered a couple of teasing free kicks into the Rangers’ area. The first resulted in Jones firing into the side net and the second was headed high. Then we passed the ball from back to front finishing with a decent cross from Gunning but Sutton was off target with his header.
Then the all too familiar Ibrox collapse arrived when Jelavic scored two in as many minutes. Whittaker provided the first and a Weiss free kick set up the second. Thirty five minutes had elapsed and the game was over as far as we were concerned. We reached half time without further loss.
Further pain was to arrive in the second half. McCall swapped Forbes for Page in the hope that a traditional back four might have more success but it was not to be. Let’s get this bit over quickly – Hutchison scored an own goal when attempting a sliding clearance and strikes five and six came from Jelavic and Healy.
Anything positive about this game? Well. Jeffers got a fifteen minute run out and Forbes forced a couple of saves from McGregor but it was an afternoon best forgotten. We can only hope that we recover in time to put up a decent showing in Aberdeen on Tuesday.