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All’s Well as Boyd levels it for Rangers

Motherwell 1 Rangers 1

Kris Boyd showed Rangers what they had been missing when he rescued a point against Motherwell in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The striker made his first start since recovering from a double hernia operation and prevented the Scottish champions from slumping to only their second league defeat of the season.

Tom Hateley — son of former Rangers hero Mark — grabbed the opener for Motherwell, who were also controversially denied a second goal, as Craig Brown remained undefeated in the SPL.

Kenny Miller started alongside Boyd upfront as Rangers manager Walter Smith made four changes from the weekend.

The strike duo came off the bench in the goalless Active Nation Scottish Cup tie at St Mirren and made the starting line-up last night, with Steven Naismith moved back to midfield and Kyle Lafferty dropped to the bench.

The Steelmen started well and carved out the first real chance of the match when Keith Lasley whipped in a cross from the right for John Sutton but he nodded just over from close range.

Lukas Jutkiewicz then tried his luck from distance but drilled straight into the hands of Allan McGregor, with the Rangers goalkeeper able to smother easily.

The Rangers goalkeeper was called into action again as Motherwell continued to pile on the pressure, this time pushing a blistering long range effort from Sutton past his left-hand post.

Rangers then had the chance to open the scoring when Boyd was fouled just outside the box by Stephen Craigan and Steven Davis curled his free-kick narrowly past the upright.

Instead, it was Motherwell who took the lead under similar circumstances with 28 minutes gone. Jim O'Brien was felled by Davis and Hateley left McGregor with no chance with a superb free-kick that smashed into the top corner.

The visitors tried to hit back when Boyd unleashed a ferocious volley from 30-yards but goalkeeper John Ruddy was able to gather, before then blocking from Lee McCulloch.

Rangers made a change at the interval, with Nacho Novo replacing Kirk Broadfoot and Steven Whittaker switching to right-back, as they desperately tried to haul themselves back into the game.

However, there was a controversial moment with 54 minutes gone when Motherwell were denied a second goal of the night.

Hateley's free-kick was met by Craigan, whose effort looked netbound and was helped over the line by Forbes only for the latter to be flagged for offside — despite television pictures appearing to show he was onside.

At the other end, a Davis corner broke for Novo and he rifled a powerful volley from just outside the box only to be denied by an alert Ruddy.

Rangers pushed forward in a bid to snatch a point and Ruddy was forced to block from Davis, before Boyd blasted well over from close-range.

But the striker made amends with 80 minutes on the clock when he collected a cross from the left from Sasa Papac and lashed into the back of the net from the six-yard box.

A lacklustre Rangers would no doubt have been happy with the draw on a difficult night at Fir Park but Celtic's win over Hearts allowed them to close the gap on the SPL leaders to eight points.

Belfast Telegraph

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