Caixinha forced to rip up the game plan

Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha blamed injuries and illness as he was forced to rip up his game plan during the 1-1 draw with Motherwell.

The Light Blues were miles off the pace as they struggled through the opening 45 minutes against Stephen Robinson’s well-drilled Well side.

And with his team a goal down to Louis Moult’s third-minute opener, the new Rangers manager was forced to rejig his tactics at half-time.

Caixinha used all three substitutions during the interval as three members of his starting back four were replaced, with midfielders Jon Toral and Andy Halliday forming a makeshift three-man back-line alongside Rob Kiernan.

It was one of his replacements, Joe Garner, who rescued a point for his side, but Rangers had to ride their luck during a madcap finale that saw their improvised line-up cling on for a point.

However, the Portuguese coach explained he had been forced into those sweeping alterations after seeing skipper Lee Wallace, who returned from Scotland duty nursing a stomach injury, and fellow defenders Clint Hill and Lee Hodson struggle through the opening half.

He said: “No Rangers manager or players can be happy if we draw, whether at Ibrox or anywhere else.

“But we can understand what happened in the game to see what is coming in the near future.

“We had a different game in the first half and the second half. Motherwell were stronger than us, they were strong on the long balls and very strong on the second balls – if we won one second ball, we were lucky.

“So we tried to make two changes at half-time.

“But we also saw then that both Lees were struggling – Lee Wallace wasn’t 100 per cent and tried his very best, and Lee Hodson arrived with a high fever,. Clint also felt his hamstring.

“So we were forced not only to change the mindset but then change everything else.

“Football can be like this and I have to praise my players for the second half – players out of position, like Jon at centre half when he has never played there before, but they did a fantastic job and we could, with a little luck, have had a different result. ”

The result sees Gers fall further behind Aberdeen in the race for second. They now trail the Dons by 10 points and Caixinha admits he may have some fitness concerns ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Kilmarnock.

“It’s difficult to tell just now if the players who came off will play on Wednesday.” he said. “Lee Hodson has a sort of flu so maybe he can play.

“Lee Wallace, it’s a stomach thing, and he did his very best to be with us. Clint we will need to assess.”

Motherwell stay in 10th place but boss Robinson feels his side should be walking away from Ibrox with more.

Moult powered home a header after Hill misread Elliott Frear’s corner but Garner levelled on the hour mark when he hooked home from Kenny Miller’s cross.

The visitors thought they had snatched a winner soon after, though, when Moult fired home, but it was chalked off when Stephen Pearson applied a final touch from an offside position.

“Going into the game we would have been happy with a point but after our performance today we’re very disappointed,” he admitted.

“There’s not many teams come to Ibrox and create that amount of chances.

“I read in Pedro’s press interviews that we were going to lie back and we were coming to get beat, that was never the case for us.

“We played three up front all the time and were tactically really good. The boys followed it to the letter.

“We’re really disappointed we haven’t come away with three points.”

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