A stunning John Lundstram sealed Rangers’ lackluster victory at Ross County

John Lundstram’s first-half goal gave Rangers a 1-0 Scottish Premier League victory over Ross County, but it was far from a stellar performance from Michael Bell. After thrilling 3–2 victories over Hibernian and Aberdeen in Bell’s first two matches as new Rangers manager, it was a less exciting game at Dingwall.

Midfielder Lundstram scored what proved to be the winner in the 35th minute with a blistering performance that made it three wins out of three for the former assistant manager Rangers, who would be happy with a clean sheet if not a general display.

Rangers are back within six points of leaders Celtic – who host St Johnstone on Saturday – but Bale has been reminded there is a lot of work to be done if they are to prevent their old rivals retaining the title.

“I thought we were comfortable without being clinical,” Bell said, “that’s probably the nice way to put it. Look, we were tired. It’s a long weekend, two long flights, and we’re happy to start with three points. I think, most importantly for the group, it’s curling up.” clean.

“I thought some of the dominance in terms of ball possession was very good. Sometimes we didn’t realize we could run back and that was an area we could improve on.

“The actual gameplay of getting there I was happy with it. We know we’re still a work in progress, we know the most important thing is to keep winning, and as we keep winning, you’re going to see players coming back.”

Allan McGregor, first choice goalkeeper, was missing through illness and was replaced by John McLaughlin, while James Sands, Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos sat on the bench. Ben Davies, Scott Arfield and Lundstram made the starting line-up.

County, with Connor Randall, the captain, Keith Watson and David Cankola again in the side – Jack Baldwin was suspended after his red card at the weekend against St Johnstone – worked hard to stifle the visitors from the start. Rangers, with Lundstram initially falling between Conor Goldson and Davies to start the attacking moves, dominated possession but struggled to penetrate.

The home side’s first clear chance of the game came in the 19th minute and they had to score. Jordan Tilson’s cross from the right to the back post was found by George Harmon but his header from four yards was blocked by McLaughlin’s quick reactions.

Motherwell manager Stephen Hamill admitted his point at home to Kilmarnock looked worse than defeat after squandering a two-goal lead against the 10-man visitors.

Kilmarnock had threatened only once before Alan Power were shown a straight red card midway through the second half for a late challenge on Paul McGinn, with Motherwell taking the lead through goals from Kevin van Veen and Callum Slattery.

However, McGinn slotted home five minutes later and Liam Polworth stunned his former side two minutes later when he found the top corner from 35 yards to give the visitors a 2-2 draw.

Hamill said: “There was a three-minute period in the space of 90 minutes where we lost all momentum and they took advantage of it. It happened a few times, we got up against 10 guys and we struggled to deal with that. The momentum swing almost went in the opposite direction. We have to be good and professional enough to deal with that.

“It probably seems worse than defeat considering the size of the game for us, the amount of preparation we’ve made and the work we’ve put in, to find ourselves in such a strong position, I felt it was a solid performance even then. Going out with a point and neglecting the goals we concede, that’s Unacceptable.”

Hamill ordered his players in on Christmas Eve to analyze their breakdown. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “There were a lot of good things but there was a lot we could do better and we’ll come in the morning and look at that and try to improve.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes was frustrated that his side lost two goals so soon after a throw-in – one from Motherwell and one from his own – but paid tribute to their spirits. “We did everything to do and we got down to 10 guys and I thought the players were great from then on,” he said. “This feels like a very important point to us, it feels kind of like a moral victory. We don’t gush about it because we came here to win.” AP average

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Motherwell’s Hamill feels 2-0 lead wasted ‘worse than defeat’

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Motherwell manager Stephen Hamill admitted his point at home to Kilmarnock looked worse than defeat after squandering a two-goal lead against the 10-man visitors.

Kilmarnock had threatened only once before Alan Power were shown a straight red card midway through the second half for a late challenge on Paul McGinn, with Motherwell taking the lead through goals from Kevin van Veen and Callum Slattery.

However, McGinn slotted home five minutes later and Liam Polworth stunned his former side two minutes later when he found the top corner from 35 yards to give the visitors a 2-2 draw.

Hamill said: “There was a three-minute period in the space of 90 minutes where we lost all momentum and they took advantage of it. It happened a few times, we got up against 10 guys and we struggled to deal with that. The momentum swing almost went in the opposite direction. We have to be good and professional enough to deal with that.

“It probably seems worse than defeat considering the size of the game for us, the amount of preparation we’ve made and the work we’ve put in, to find ourselves in such a strong position, I felt it was a solid performance even then. Going out with a point and neglecting the goals we concede, that’s Unacceptable.”

Hamill ordered his players in on Christmas Eve to analyze their breakdown. “We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “There were a lot of good things but there was a lot we could do better and we’ll come in the morning and look at that and try to improve.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes was frustrated that his side lost two goals so soon after a throw-in – one from Motherwell and one from his own – but paid tribute to their spirits. “We did everything to do and we got down to 10 guys and I thought the players were great from then on,” he said. “It feels like a very important point to us, it just feels like a kind of moral victory. We don’t gush about it because we came here to win.” AP average

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Moments later, the visitors’ defense was breached again and this time Ora Edwards sent in a shot wide from a tight angle.

However, a moment of quality from Lundstram broke the deadlock and ultimately proved decisive. Zambian forward Vashon Sakala tipped the ball to the midfielder who had time and 20 yards space to send a left-footed shot past Ross Laidlaw into the team’s own goal.

Rangers were no more fluid or cohesive at the start of the second half although it took a fine save from Laidlaw in the 54th minute to thwart Sakala, who was set up by young full-back Adam Devine. It was the last notable action from Sakala before he was replaced by Morelos, who soon fired a wide goal.

Jack and Rabbi Matondo took over from Arfield and Malik Tillman, Rangers continued to control the ball but a second goal was not forthcoming. The visitors eventually had a chance to settle the matter in extra time only for Laidlaw to thwart Matondo in a one-on-one battle. However, points remained tied to Ibrox.

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