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A first-half goal from Cyriel Dessers proved enough for Rangers to see off Motherwell 1-0 but the Steelmen did not relinquish their long unbeaten record on the road without a major fight.

Dessers netted against the run of play in the 24th minute when he diverted Rabbi Matondo’s strike past Liam Kelly.

Rangers had chances to extend their lead but there were several anxious moments for the Ibrox support in the latter stages as Oli Shaw and Blair Spittal in particular came close.

There was a smattering of boos from the Rangers fans after the final whistle blew on their 1-0 victory, which sent them above Motherwell into third place, six points behind leaders Celtic.

It was Motherwell’s first cinch Premiership defeat in nine away matches since Stuart Kettlewell took charge in February.

The win came at a cost for Rangers as Matondo went off injured in the first half after twice going down with no-one near him.

Rangers were also missing Tom Lawrence after the attacking midfielder was sent for a scan on the problem that forced him off during Thursday’s Europa League win over Real Betis, joining Danilo, Nico Raskin, Todd Cantwell and Kieron Dowell on the sidelines.

Lawrence’s absence paved the way for Scott Wright to make his first start under Beale while Sam Lammers and Dessers returned.

Motherwell made the brighter start and they had several half-chances to take the lead. Harry Paton and Callum Slattery both curled just wide and Brodie Spencer forced Jack Butland to make a diving save at his near post.

There was another scare for the home team when Lammers diverted a Motherwell free-kick into his own goalmouth but Connor Goldson beat Bevis Mugabi to the ball to head over for a corner.

Rangers scored from their first real effort at goal. Matondo got a chance to shoot from 20 yards and Dessers diverted the ball over Liam Kelly’s dive for his third Rangers goal.

Lammers soon had a shot before Matondo eventually went off. The winger was replaced by centre-back John Souttar as Beale matched up with Motherwell’s formation. Abdallah Sima and Kemar Roofe were more natural replacements on the bench but both had been rested after their exertions in midweek.

Motherwell had a penalty claim in stoppage time when James Tavernier held off Spencer as the wing-back tried to reach Theo Bair’s flick-on but referee Alan Muir played on and there was no delay when the ball went out of play.

Lammers had several chances either side of the break, twice forcing Kelly into saves and volleying wide from Tavernier’s cross.

Spencer was frustrated by another decision from Muir after being penalised as he outmuscled Tavernier to reach a through ball that put him bearing down on Butland.

Kelly denied Dessers and then Lammers as Rangers broke but Motherwell came back into the game after Shaw joined Bair up front. The pair combined for an excellent chance but Butland saved well from the substitute.

Beale handed 16-year-old Bailey Rice, a former Motherwell academy player, his home debut in the 78th minute in a midfield role.

Motherwell came even closer when Spittal played a one-two with Slattery and beat Butland only for Tavernier to clear off the line.

Motherwell had more chances. Shaw’s volley was charged down and Goldson cleared off the line from Spittal, although the flag went up afterwards, and substitute Conor Wilkinson forced two saves.