Rangers failed to take the opportunity of extending our lead at the top of the table even further after coming from behind to draw at Fir Park in what many have described as one of our worst performances of the season. An early kick off on Sunday looked to have caught the side off guard as we were not on our game at all in the opening half, falling behind to a goal that was lazily defended. The hope for the supporters was that this would at least wake us up for us to push on for that equaliser, which was a struggle owing to the fact that we were trying the same hopeful balls that were not coming off. It was also not helped by the fact that some of our key creative players were simply not firing at the level we needed them to, or even close to that.
A much called for substitution was made by the manager which helped turn the luck of our side finally, with a headed goal bringing us level and hopefully looking to steal a winner late on. The winning goal did not come however, and the draw was a fair result given the level of quality in the game. Suggestions over whether this is the side beginning to show any sort of pressure are ludicrous, however. This was a poor performance but it is not the first time we have not played to our potential this season. The key has been about how we have bounced back in the following matches, and this is really important in the next game against Ross County on Saturday. There is also a lot to be said for the disappointment our neighbours will have over not being able to close the gap. All that has happened this weekend is the gap has remained the same, with one game less for them to close it.
Here is how you rated our players from a disappointing performance at Motherwell.
Allan McGregor – 5.5 (6)
As far as the conceded goal is concerned, when the ball is played into that area, the fingers are pointed at the defence for allowing such a situation rather than goalkeeper for conceding it. Outwith that, there was little else to say for McGregor’s game given the lack of major opportunities Motherwell were able to create from that point.
James Tavernier – 4.9 (5)
Last week some criticised Tavernier for being out of position for the goal we conceded in Aberdeen, when in fact his positioning was not a problem given the way that we play. This time, however, you can criticise him for the goal we lose, and the annoying thing is it has little to do with positioning. He gives the attacking Motherwell players far too much time to work their move which ends up with the low crossed ball. If he has his midfielder on that side back with him, it maybe helps him not feel like he needs to cover so much ground, but still he needs to be aware of the situation and not allow as much time for Motherwell on the ball. That, along with a lack of attacking impetuous, meant this was a game for Tav to forget.
Connor Goldson – 6.0 (6)
In a match were much of the defensive issues deserve criticism, this was certainly reduced somewhat by the work Goldson was putting in after the concession. He did not cover himself in glory for the goal, absolutely not, but he at least was able to stem the tide from there and was key to making McGregor’s afternoon a quiet one from that point. What I also liked was the fact he was getting forward and looked as though he was trying to repeat his goalscoring exploits from the Cup game against St Mirren. I think the key to his rating being a bit higher than a fair few of his teammates is the attitude shown was really good.
Leon Balogun – 4.8 (5)
He picked up a knock in the warm up which seemed to suggest that we may see the return of Filip Helander to the defence, however Leon was able to shake it off and start this match. I would certainly have welcomed a return to the side for Fil to be honest, that is more about how I rate Helander though. For Balogun, we all know what he does well, but there are times were there can be defensive decisions made that look odd. His work at the goal we lose is an example of this. It seemed like a strange decision to dive at the ball that had been put in, rather than to use his known speed to get in front of the Motherwell forward and clear from there. It felt unnecessarily desperate from him, and made it easier for the attacker to tap the ball in.
Borna Barisic – 6.5 (7)
If at first you don’t succeed then try and try again. That was the mantra for Borna’s afternoon, constantly trying to find that killer ball that would get the side on level terms. A really good cross in the first half right on the by line which was headed just wide, had that gone in, the assist from Borna would have been lauded without any doubt. He did not let up, kept trying and finally managed to get that assist when he crossed from deep to allow substitute Itten to head in. It was a lovely cross which most strikers would be able to put away, and deserved for Borna who was definitely the more threatening of the two full backs in terms of attacking play.
Glen Kamara – 5.6 (5)
For a player who is praised so often for how he keeps the ball in tight situations, this was a really poor game for him. His retention of the ball was desperately poor, and as a result there was little else to be said for his game. When I talked about Tav struggling to handle the number of Motherwell players on that side when they set up the goal, I am wondering where Kamara is at that point and whether he would have been able to help cover that area to limit the chances for that ball to be played in. A forgettable afternoon for Kamara who will look to get back to his good old self on Saturday.
Steven Davis – 6.6 (7) – Joint Man of the Match
300 appearances for Rangers, in the modern era that is a fantastic achievement for someone who will look back on his career and be able to boast about a number of remarkable achievements. It is a pity that could not have been celebrated properly with a victory, however the performance was still very good from Davis, covering a lot of ground in the centre of the park and looking to get more from his fellow players, some of whom could not reciprocate those energy levels. As mentioned before, his status of Rangers legend will be secured should the title be won this season, and that comes down to the number of games he has played and how often he has done the job for us.
Joe Aribo – 3.7 (4)
We really need to have a talk about Joe Aribo. The past couple of games we have wanted more from him but the results on the park have meant his contribution has been understandable. Not here though, this was “empty shirt” levels of anonymous from him. It is not at all unreasonable to ask for far more consistency from him, especially when we are without players you would consider his competition for that position due to being absent through injury. No sign of him looking to pass and move, bring the ball from the middle to the front, and his shot on the edge of the area that went miles over the bar just summed it up for him.
Ianis Hagi – 4.5 (5)
His first half was a disappointment, no question. Very little creativity, even though the class was still present without the form to match. But to have been brought off so early in the second half, I thought was an odd decision. You could see that Motherwell were beginning to “retreat” and have a lot more players behind the ball to protect their lead. We have seen this before and the player you really want to have on the park in those situations is Hagi. Why he was chosen to depart over another attacking player at that point was really strange. Thankfully the player who came on was key to securing a point, but you cannot help but wonder whether 3 points would have been gained had Ianis stayed on instead.
Alfredo Morelos – 6.5 (6)
I’m sure many who look to criticise him at every turn will want to find flaws in his performance, mainly in the fact he did not score, but this was actually a very fair performance from Morelos all in. The thing he does will in coming deep to try and get moves going was useful here, given the lack of attacking midfield support that was given, and unfortunately the players he was trying to feed were not up to it either. His best chance of the game came from a header that he put just wide, a difficult chance which was so well delivered to him, and it would have been a fantastic goal had it been scored.
Ryan Kent – 3.8 (4)
In the same way that we need to talk about Aribo, we need to have a discussion around Ryan Kent. Yes, he was so much better last weekend at Aberdeen, but to go from that level to this in the space of a week is very concerning. He was so slack on the ball, on more than one occasion he would be in possession and it would go out of play without any pressure being on him. That, along with other issues from him during the match, led many fans during the game to be exasperated by his game. For him to have stayed on the park for so much longer was extremely puzzling for me, and you cannot see him not playing the next match as well given the trend of the selections from the coaching staff up to now. We can only hope for a much improved display again when Saturday comes around.
Cedric Itten – 6.6 (7) – Joint Man of the Match
Some players just have a knack for scoring against specific teams. Claudio Cannigia loved playing Dunfermline. Ally McCoist against Celtic. And Cedric Itten seems like the player you need to always have in the team when we play Motherwell. His fourth goal in three games against them this season, and this was certainly one of the more important ones. He receives the cross from the left with his head to knock in, an easy header but he is well positioned to receive it, and it was very much game back on at that point. He also really tried to find a winner through his work down the right hand side afterward. Are we really to believe he would not be worth putting in from the start against Ross County instead of Kent for a game? In any case I think he deserves the chance from the start.
Jermain Defoe – 4.0 (5)
When you need a goal the natural option is to bring on Jermain Defoe, and he was oh so close to getting a late winner when he brought down a cross brilliantly and hit a shot on the turn which the Motherwell keeper was equal to. It would have been a stunning goal to win the game.
Brandon Barker – 3.4 (5)
Hard to expect anything from him when he is being brought on so late in a game like this and, unsurprisingly, his impact was minimal.