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May 28, 2015 at 7.45pm UK
RangersRangers
1-3
Motherwell
McGregor (82')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Erwin (27'), McManus (40'), Ainsworth (47')
/esi/1339/6_G_1_42322/index.html?art_id=225169&game_id=42322&sport_id=1&ESI

Preview: Rangers vs. Motherwell

:Headline: Preview: Rangers vs. Motherwell:
Sports Mole looks ahead to the first leg of the Scottish Premiership playoff final between Rangers and Motherwell at Ibrox Stadium.
By , Rugby Editor | 4y

Rangers and Motherwell go head to head at Ibrox Stadium on Thursday night in the first leg of the Scottish Premiership playoff final.

The high-stakes match has the added intrigue of Gers boss Stuart McCall facing former club Motherwell for the first time since his resignation at the end of 2014.


Rangers


Glasgow giants Rangers can take a step closer to returning to the top flight of Scottish football if they earn a victory over Motherwell on home soil.

McCall's side sealed their place in the Scottish Premiership playoff final thanks to a 2-1 aggregate victory over Hibernian in the semi-finals.

Despite losing the second leg 1-0 at Easter Road, a 2-0 triumph at Ibrox saw Gers keep their dreams of a revival alive.

The team's defeat in the first leg was only the second time in 19 matches in all competitions that they had lost.

Their clash with Motherwell has some added spice due to the fact that McCall managed the Steelmen as recently as the end of 2014. The 50-year-old was in charge at Fir Park for nearly four years before resigning in November.

With a renewed air of optimism around the club following the news that Dave King has been given clearance by the Scottish Football Association to become chairman at Ibrox, the Rangers faithful will expect their side to gain the initiative in the tie on Thursday night.

Recent form: DDWDWL



Motherwell


Motherwell's place in the Scottish Premiership playoff was confirmed when they finished the regular season five points adrift of safety.

Ian Baraclough's men endured a miserable campaign, picking up just 36 points from 38 matches. Despite hinting at a resurgence at the end of March and beginning of April, one win from their last six games ultimately proved to be their undoing.

Their slump is all the more remarkable for the fact that they finished last season as runners-up to champions Celtic under manager McCall.

The last time that the Well dropped down to the second tier of Scottish football was back in 1984-85, though they bounced back at the first attempt.

A lack of goals and a slack defence have hit Motherwell hard this term. The side have kept just seven clean sheets, while a return of one goal per game at the other end has not helped their cause.

There is not much hope around the club heading into their crucial playoff with one of Scotland's biggest names, but despite struggling for much of the season, they now have two chances to seal their survival.

Recent form: LLDWLD



Team News


Nicky Clark could return to the Rangers starting lineup after being named on the bench for last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Hibernian.

His inclusion in the side may mean that Lee McCulloch drops to the bench, with the Gers adopting a more attacking approach than at Easter Road.

Meanwhile, Motherwell are expected to welcome back a number of key names following their recent 0-0 draw with Partick Thistle.

George Long, Mark O'Brien, Josh Law and Lee Erwin are among the players who could be recalled.

Rangers possible starting lineup:
Bell; Foster, McGregor, McCulloch, Zaliukas, Wallace; Vuckic, Murdoch, Shiels, Law; Miller

Motherwell possible starting lineup:
Long; Ramsden, O'Brien, McManus, Hammell; Grant, Law, Lasley, Johnson; Erwin, McDonald


Head To Head

The history book does not make good reading for Motherwell, who have failed to win at Rangers for 18 years. The Gers have won all but four of their home matches against the Steelmen since then.

Overall, Rangers have triumphed in 183 of their previous 262 encounters. Motherwell have prevailed on 36 occasions, while there have been a total of 43 draws.

The last time that the sides faced each other was in September 2012 when Rangers earned a 2-0 victory at Ibrox in the Scottish League Cup.



We say: Rangers 1-0 Motherwell

With the wind in their sails following a two-legged victory over Hibernian, Rangers should be the favourites to win this match. The Gers could well exploit home advantage, though do not expect them to play an overly-attacking game. Motherwell would happily leave Glasgow with a draw or even a narrow defeat, so it is likely that the visitors will look to stifle their opponents.


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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
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2Manchester CityMan City24163565273851
3Leicester CityLeicester24153652242848
4Chelsea2412484132940
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18Bournemouth2465132337-1423
19Watford2458112136-1523
20Norwich CityNorwich2445152447-2317
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