Two goals deep into second half injury time saw Rangers rescue a point in dramatic fashion as a depleted Motherwell side were unable to hold out for victory with seven minutes remaining of this SWPL1 clash at Ravenscraig.
Both teams had come into this encounter on the back of a poor recent run of results and the home side were hampered before a ball was kicked as they were only able to list one fully fit substitute. Visiting head coach Amy McDonald made seven changes to the side that was defeated 5-1 by Glasgow City in the SWPL Cup Semi Final last time out with a number of experienced faces coming into the starting line up. It was the Women of Steel that started the quickest though and, after a long range effort from Chelsea McEachran was juggled to safety by Rangers goalkeeper Jade Baillie, they took the lead with 15 minutes on the clock. Good work down the left by Lori Gardner, who was dangerous throughout the first half, saw her cut inside and hit a shot that was deflected on route to the goal. In the resulting race for the ball it was Mhairi Fyfe who managed to gain control to poke the ball past Baillie.
Two minutes later Motherwell found themselves two nil up. Gardner was again at the centre of things as she picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and, with no pressure forthcoming from the Rangers defence, hit a dipping long range effort that made its way into the top right hand corner of the net. It was a high quality strike from a player who was continuing to cause problems with her willing running and trickery despite not being 100% fit herself.
Rangers eventually awoke from their early slumber and started putting pressure on the Motherwell goal but were resorted to long range efforts up until the stroke of half time where an error from goalkeeper Morgan Hunter should have given the visitors a way back in. Her fumble fell to the feet of striker Carla Boyce but she dwelled on the ball for too long with her eventual shot being blocked thanks to a diving Kirsten Rolph in the ‘Well defence.
Rangers made two changes at half time in attempt to find the breakthrough but it was Donald Jennow’s side who would extend their lead on the hour mark. Right midfielder Sarah Crilly found herself in yards of space on the edge of the Rangers area and maintained her composure to steer the ball into the top left hand corver. That seemed to be game over but with twenty minutes to go Rangers ability to freshen things up started to tell as fatigue set in for the hosts. With pressure building McDonald rolled the dice one final time bringing on Holly Napier and newly crowned Rangers Women’s Player of the Year Amy Muir and both players would play a part as Rangers completed a remarkable comeback. Firstly on the 83rd minute Muir was the recipient of a long cross field pass on the corner of the Motherwell area and, after taking the ball down she took a couple of strides before rifling an angled drive past Hunter. It would have been easy for the visitors to accept that as nothing but a consolation but with the home players looking increasingly weary the momentum had shifted in the Light Blues favour.
The likelihood of a comeback was increased further when Motherwell keeper Hunter was unable to get enough of a hand to Jade Gallon’s low long range drive with the midfielders 92nd minute strike reducing Rangers deficit to one with time still on the clock. The fresh legs of Muir had the home defence reeling and it would be her near post corner in the 94th minute that would fall to fellow substitute Napier who was able to get free and snatch what had seemed a highly unlikely point for the Glasgow side.
Motherwell will be left to rue a lack of player availability through injury and suspension especially after being 3-0 up with half an hour left to play but conversely Rangers Head Coach McDonald will have been pleased to see her side eventually take advantage of their hosts tiredness during what has been a challenging few weeks for her side.
Full Time: Motherwell 3-3 Rangers
Motherwell: Hunter, Knox, Rolph, Rice, Crilly, Montgomery, Gardner, McEachran, Roberts, Fyfe, Adams
Subs: McManus, MacLeod, Liddell.
Goals: Fyfe (’15), Gardner (’17), Crilly (’60)
Rangers: Baillie, Inglis, Donnelly, Watson, Brown, Gemmell, Robertson, Sinclair, J. Gallon, McCartney, Boyce.
Subs: Ramsay, Coakley, Dalgliesh, Pullar, Napier, Muir, L. Gallon
Goals: Muir (’83), J. Gallon (’90+2), Napier (’90+4)