Rangers 4, Motherwell 1

Match Date: Monday, December 27 2004
Competition: Scottish Premier League
Attendance: 49,909.
 
Motherwell Team (4-4-2):

Corr, Quinn, Craigan, Partridge, Hammell, Paterson, Corrigan, Fitzpatrick (Wright 72), McBride, McDonald (Burns 72), Foran.
Subs not used: Ewings, Cowan, Fagan, Kinniburgh, Keogh.

Motherwell scorer: McDonald (49).

Booked: Foran, Partridge.

FREELAND LENDS A HAND TO HOME RULE

Rangers  4     Motherwell  1

A QUITE INEPT PERFORMANCE FROM Referee Alan Freeland, coupled with some questionable defending from Motherwell, led to a win for the home side which somewhat flattered them. The tone for the match was set in the first minutes when neither Referee nor linesman spotted a clear handball by goalscorer Novo.

Motherwell were first to show, Fitzpatrick and Foran combining though Mladenovic cleared. However, the first moment of controversy came just moments later, and the home fans had the audacity to complain about the officials at half time. Ricksen's ball in fell between Craigan and Corrigan where Novo stood looking somewhat offside. He attempted a flick, the ball appeared to strike his hand, and it ran behind Corr in goals into the net. Incredibly, Referee Freeland declared it a goal. From kick-off, an Averladze foul on McDonald gave Motherwell an opportunity to hit back. Stevie Hammell took it and wasn't too far away with a curling effort. Andrews then used McDonald as a climbing frame and another free kick ensued. This time McBride was more accurate but found Klos instead of the net. To anger the away fans even more, an equally blatant handball by Averladze was deemed a foul and this time a free kick was given. Motherwell weren't being fazed and after McBride and Foran had combined to send McDonald wide his cross fell just over the bar. There should have been a yellow card for Novo who clearly dived over the leg of Craigan on the edge of the box, Referee Freeland agreeing somewhat though he chose to merely wave play on. A break by Prso took him to the edge of the Motherwell box and as Partridge challenged and cleared a rather soft free kick was awarded, though Malcolm drove over much to the delight of the visiting fans. The Fir Parkers pushed forward with Quinn finding Foran via McBride, and the Irishman's turn and shot was angled wide of the far upright. However, just as Motherwell looked to be coming right back into things, they fell further behind. Ricksen passed forward to Averladze and as was challenged by Partridge the ball fell to Novo who strode forward to beat Corr again. 

Once more, Motherwell refused to lie down. Quickly they forced a corner through McDonald, and although partially cleared, the ball fell to Craigan whose snapshot went over. The home response was a turn and shot by Averladze and this, too, was wide. Malcolm then targeted McDonald again, but the free kick came to nothing. A clash between Foran and Hutton looked nasty but there was no reaction from the Referee or well-placed linesman to what looked like retaliation on the home player's part. The first booking arrived on the half-hour, Vignal seeing yellow when he dived over the challenge of McBride. Just back from injury was Scott McDonald, and he was lively. Turning onto a Foran pass he shot inches over the bar with Klos struggling to get there. Vignal was very fortunate not to see a quick second yellow when he caught Quinn quite some time after the ball was played. Motherwell forced another corner which fell invitingly for Fitzpatrick, but he couldn't keep his shot down though it was deflected behind. From this corner, McBride returned the clearance but again Fitzpatrick was unable to direct a header on goal. Another lucky Rangers player was Khizanishvili. His elbow on McBride had the Motherwell man down in agony, but Referee Freeland deemed it only a yellow card. A break to the by line by Vignal then saw a low cross evade Novo at the back post before Partridge tidied up. Partridge again did superbly well to deny Prso going clear on Corr moments later. 

Half-time     Rangers  2     Motherwell  0

The Fir Parkers came out in a determined fashion, and right form kick off showed they meant business. McBride dispossessed Ricksen but his pass to Foran saw the Irishman deliver a poor ball on. Fitzpatrick then supplied McDonald but he drove over from 25 yards out. Mladenovic forced a corner for the home side though McBride dealt with this comfortably enough. With four minutes gone of the second half, Motherwell came right back into things. Foran found McDonald outside the box and the Aussie sent an unstoppable rasper well beyond Klos into the top right-hand corner of the net for a wonder goal. Rangers responded by winning a corner which Andrews drove well over. There was then a clash between Foran and Vignal, with the Irishman unfortunate to see a yellow card whilst again Vignal escaped what would have been a sending off. Just as it looked as if Motherwell had the home side in panic mode, they fell further behind again. Fitzpatrick lost possession to Novo and he fed Averladze who gave Corr no chance with a low shot. Some fine goalkeeping by Corr then kept the scoreline down. Firstly, he did well to hold a shot from Prso following a corner. Then, after Craigan had performed well to deny Novo going clear on the Keeper, Corr smothered a shot from Novo after Partridge had been booked for conceding a free kick. The home fans had demanded a straight red, but with two fellow defenders nearer the goal, it was never going to be. Vignal once more escaped a second yellow when once more he dived, this time as Quinn challenged. After Andrews had been penalised for fouling Paterson, teammate McBride was then sandwiched by three home defenders but play was waved on. A home change had Mladenovic replaced by Rae. His first involvement was to drive a corner wildly past the post. A Ricksen foul on McDonald saw another free kick to Motherwell, with Fitzpatrick curling a cross just beyond McBride. The ball broke to Paterson and his cross quite clearly struck the hand of Andrews but with the linesman perfectly positioned he failed to raise his flag. 

As if to confirm Motherwell's misfortunes a pass back from Khizanishvili saw Klos completely miss the ball but it went wide of the post for a corner. Opposite number Corr produced a superb save to deny Averladze as he went clear on the goalkeeper. However, he almost undid this by kicking poorly back to the Rangers player with a great interception from Craigan coming to the rescue. Scott McDonald, playing his first game for two months, then was replaced by Burns, with Fitzpatrick going off in favour of Wright. A cynical Rae challenge had Quinn on the deck but the resultant free kick again saw Andrews handle. No penalty once more, and Rangers broke. Novo found Ricksen but again Corr blocked. Andrews should by now have seen yellow for persistent fouling, this time on Foran, but there was no card. Another home change had Prso off and Thompson on. Clever work from Kenny Wright forced a corner off Andrews. Cleared to Paterson he drove off Ricksen and behind, the Dutchman showing clear dissent but seeing no yellow card. Malcolm was another escaping a booking for several fouls; his latest on Hammell gave Motherwell a free kick 12 yards from the touchline. The ball came across to Richie Foran but as he went to head home he lost his footing and the chance went. Averladze attempted a 25 yarder on the angle which rose high and wide. A dangerous cross from Ricksen then had Corr struggling though he gathered at the second attempt. Burns then leapt on an error from Khizanishvili but couldn't get through towards goal. With four minutes left Thompson put a rather unfair reflection on the game when he curled a shot beyond Corr into the net. Motherwell responded, refusing to put the heads down, and Foran was unlucky to see his shot blocked 18 yards out. At long last Malcolm was booked for dissent. As the game petered out Rae fired well wide from 25 yards out.

Full Time     Rangers  4     Motherwell  1

Match Report by Ricky Mullen

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