Rangers’ long unbeaten run came to an end at Motherwell this afternoon, losing 1-0 in a game decided by shocking refereeing decisions by the incompetent Willie Young.
Time and time again the overweight and incompetent Young has cheated Rangers during his career – and today was no different. Young had robbed Alex McLeish of a victory in his inaugural game as ‘Gers boss one year ago by awarding Motherwell a late – and non-existent – penalty in a 2-2 draw, a fact that is overlooked by the conspiracy theorists, and today he made crucial decisions that changed the outcome of the game.
Rangers made three changes from the eleven that had started at Firhill with Fernando Ricksen (back after suspension), Bob Malcolm and Claudio Caniggia replacing Allan Hutton, Stephen Hughes and Russell Latapy.
There were the customary gaps in the home support at kick-off, but it was ‘Well who threatened first when a Stephen Pearson cross was missed by Lorenzo Amoruso, Dirk Lehmann’s shot being held by Stefan Klos.
Sixty seconds later Bob Malcolm’s error almost presented Jamie McFadden with a golden opportunity to open the scoring only for the youngster to slice his shot wide.
Rangers’ first effort at goal was manufactured by Fernando Ricksen whose one-two with Michael Mols produced a shot from the edge of the box in fourteen minutes that was turned wide by goalkeeper Francois Dubourdeau.
The home side continued to threaten however – two minutes later a Derek Adams drive from a McFadden cross was blocked at point-blank range by Craig Moore.
The Ibrox men were catching out their opponents’ offside trap with long balls to the front men, but Rangers’ forwards were not sharp enough to take advantage.
Stefan Klos held a Lehmann shot from a McFadden cross at the second attempt in 28 minutes – but Rangers started to impose themselves with the half-hour mark approaching,
Kevin Muscat’s twenty-yard drive from a Michael Mols lay-off being turned behind by Dubourdeau, then within sixty seconds the goalkeeper was holding a Mols header after a Fernando Ricksen cross had been headed backacross goal by Craig Moore.
Dubourdeau again defied Rangers when he held a 25-yard left-foot drive by Barry Ferguson in 34 minutes, but the final chance of a goalless first-half was at the other end when McFadden’s turn and left-foot shot from a Pearson free-kick was only just wide.
Rangers resumed on the offensive – seven minutes in a Ricksen cross was inches away from the inrushing Mols, and although De Boer did make contact at the far post he skied the ball over the bar.
Sixty seconds later Muscat played a one-two with De Boer that opened up the ‘Well defence only to chip weakly into the goalkeeper’s hands.
The first crucial refereeing blunder arrived in 58 minutes when Caniggia went through on a Ricksen pass only to be felled by a mid-air body-check from Dubourdeau. It was a blatant penalty and certain red card, yet incredibly Referee Willie Young, 75 yards behind play, saw nothing amiss.
Rangers continued to dominate – Ferguson’s 25-yard left-foot drive from a Lovenkrands pass in 63 minutes was again held by Dubourdeau, before Motherwell took the lead in most controversial circumstances.
A Steven Hammell free-kick in the 65th minute saw not one but two Ibrox defenders impeded as David Cowan headed across the face of goal for McFadden to bundle the ball into the net with his boot as high as the goalkeeper’s neck. Play stopped with everyone in the ground awaiting the referee’s whistle for an infringement but incredibly the buffoon Young saw nothing wrong and awarded a goal.
The bungling official – surely the worst in Scottish Refereeing history – must have been the only person inside Fir Park who did not see the two fouls, but then that’s Willie Young for you.
Rangers – playing against twelve men – besieged the Motherwell goal in the closing stages. Ricksen got behind the home defence in 84 minutes, his chip being clawed away from the inrushing Mols by Dubourdeau.
Sixty seconds later the limping Amoruso refused to be substituted by Steven McLean as Rangers piled on the pressure.
Dubourdeau – who should of course have been ordered off half-an-hour earlier – produced a stupendous save in 88 minutes when he touched away a header by substitute Billy Dodds from a Lovenkrands cross.
With the seconds ticking away Lovenkrands seemed certain to score from a De Boer slip only to see his shot deflected wide.
The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards to give Motherwell a remarkable double, having defeated Celtic earlier in the season.
Manager Alex McLeish was diplomatic in the aftermath of this first defeat of the domestic season, unlike too many other Managers who have loudly proclaimed conspiracy theories in the wake of a defeat.
However we’ll say it for you, Alex. Motherwell should donate their bonus to Referee Willie Young, who more than any other person was responsible for the result today.
Time to stick to the legal practise, Willie.
MOTHERWELL Dubourdeau; Corrigan, Kinniburgh, Partridge, Hammell; Adams, Cowan, Leitch, Pearson; McFadden, Lehmann
UNUSED SUBS Woods, Ramsay, Ferguson, MacDonald, Clarkson
RANGERS Klos; Moore, Malcolm, Amoruso, Muscat; Ricksen, Ferguson, De Boer, Lovenkrands; Caniggia (Dodds 71), Mols
UNUSED SUBS McGregor, Nerlinger, S. McLean, Reid
Referee Willie Young