Frustrating day for Steven Gerrard as Rangers let points slip away
Steven Gerrard could not hide his frustration at the loss of two important points and the conceding of two goals from dead-ball situations as Rangers let the lead slip in tha last minute at Motherwell.
The Gers were pegged back in the 94th minute as Well captain Peter Hartley earned his side a draw in a six-goal thriller at Fir Park.
“It’s very disappointing - the timing of their equaliser, the last kick of the game,” said Gerrard.
“We were a set-piece away from taking maximum points against tough opposition.
“Motherwell got the reward - but we have given them two goals today.
“We’re bitterly disappointed with the timing of the late equaliser and also disappointed with how we defended set-plays today – it’s something we are going to have to look at.”
Gerrard had opted to play a different defensive system in the first-half at least – and given that three goals were conceded questions were being asked of that decision. The manager however defended his tactics.
“In general play the change of system worked, I think the thing that didn’t work today was us defending set-pieces,” he said.
“You can’t blame the shape for conceding two goals from set-pieces. We’ve been done twice - if you take those two set-pieces away I thought the formation and the way we played was good enough to get a result here.
“I don’t think we played well second half, I don’t think we kept the ball well enough or played in their half for long enough periods and we have ourselves to blame for being in that situation.”
There was also criticism – perhaps for the first time since Gerrard took over the hot-seat – of his opting to make a substitution in the dying seconds whilst defending a corner.
He explained: “We tried to get Lee Wallace on to help us defend that set-piece – because they had four or five big units on there.
“I’ve got a defender sitting behind me who is close to 6’3”. I thought Ovie was really good again today but Lee is better at defending. That was the thinking behind it – if I’ve got it wrong then I’ll accept full responsibility.”
There was praise from the manager for two-goal Kyle Lafferty.
“I thought he and Alfredo linked up really well and he got his rewards with his two goals. I’m really pleased with a lot of their partnership today,” said Gerrard.
“That’s the reason I brought him here – we know that he’s capable of scoring goals - he’s a big player for us, stands up at the right times and contributes.”
Gerrard accepted that he must now look forward rather than reflect on two points thrown away.
“There’s nothing we can do about the Motherwell result now, except learn from it, and move on,” he said.
“I always knew we were going to get some bumps in the road and this is our first real bump. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves – we shot ourselves in the foot in terms of defending set-pieces. You can’t give teams gifts like that.
“We have to bounce back – we’ve got two really big games coming up. It’s my job to make sure we don’t have a hangover from dropping two points - to make sure this is out of the system as quickly as possible and we need to prepare now because there is a huge game in midweek.”
Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson had mixed feelings following his side’s dramatic 3-3 draw.
“To score three goals at home and not get all three points is disappointing,” he said.
“I don’t want to deal with too many negatives but I was really disappointed with the way we conceded Lafferty’s first goal then the second came from our corner.
“We showed some really good quality at times. We deserved a point – and it’s slightly disappointing we didn’t get all three.”
The Northern Irish man, it is fair to say, had not been best pleased by the pre-match comments of his captain Peter Hartley, who ironically netted the injury-time equaliser for the ‘Steelmen’.
“Actions speak louder than words – and I’d rather he did what he did today than say what he said the other day,” said Robinson.
“He’s apologised – and you do it on the pitch, not off it.”