RANGERS and Motherwell clash for a place in next season’s Scottish Premiership. How does Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) see it going?
Rangers v Motherwell | Thursday 19:45 | BT Sport 1
As you’ll be aware, there’s lots at stake in this tie. Rangers are desperate to end three years of deep pain by returning to Scotland’s top flight while Motherwell are looking to avoid falling out that division for the first time since 1984/85.
You’d have to say it’s been a contrasting few weeks for these sides and that is certainly communicated in the odds. To be honest, I’m a little surprised at the prices, but I’ll come to that later.
Rangers failed to win 17 of their 36 Championship matches this season despite being long odds on for the title at the start of the season. Let’s not beat about the bush, it’s been a season that’s given so much joy to Rangers haters, but with the crucial appointment of Stuart McCall in March the Govan club might have the last laugh.
Since the ex-Motherwell boss took over, Rangers have lost just twice in 18 games. The second of those defeats came against Hibs on Saturday when they were already 2-0 up from the first leg.
Crucially McCall has got them ticking in the big games too. Hearts and Hibs were both beaten towards the end of the league season and Queen Of The South and the Easter Road club have been eliminated in the play-offs.
For Motherwell it’s been an appalling season. 22 defeats in their 38 matches has saw them deservedly finish second bottom in the top flight and enter this play-off. Both McCall and his replacement Ian Baraclough have failed to get Well anywhere close to the levels they achieved last season when finishing second.
The best period in Motherwell’s season came between late-February and early-April when they lost just one in six and won four of those matches. St Mirren were mashed 5-0, Hamilton hacked into pieces in a 4-0 victory, hopes were high of finishing above the bottom two, but then the defeats kicked in again.
Well won just one of their last six fixtures and even lost to bottom side St Mirren the weekend before last. It doesn’t bode well at all. While Rangers will be buoyant, Motherwell will be tentative.
Another key factor to note is Rangers’ improved record against top-flight opposition this season. Top 4 sides Inverness and St Johnstone have both been beaten along with Kilmarnock.
In previous seasons in the lower leagues they’ve struggled against these kind of sides. Well actually…apart from when playing against Motherwell. Yes Rangers knocked the Steelman out of the 2012/13 League Cup when they were in the bottom tier of Scottish football.
Is that relevant? I think so yes. I’m still convinced some of these top-flight sides get spooked against Rangers due to what they used to represent. A sprawling, powerful, brutal monolith that dominated Scottish football for the whole of the 1990’s!
All about Rangers then Chris? Well, yeah maybe but look at the prices! Some bookmakers are odds on on the Gers winning this match and even shorter on them going up. Let’s not forget they’ve been gash for most of the season.
No I can’t bring myself to back Rangers at best price 20/19. They should win over the two legs but the route to profit for me here is to back a cagey affair so I’m backing Under 2 Goals on the Asian Handicap Goal Line with 888 Sport at 7/5. 0 or 1 goals and I get paid out, two and I get my stake back.
Rangers v Motherwell – Under 2 Goals Asian Handicap Goal Line (7/5 888 Sport)