Gers maintain SPL lead
Rangers win keeps city rivals Celtic at bay
Last Updated: 21/09/08 5:53pm
Davis: Opening goal
Steven Davis and Nacho Novo both scored as Rangers maintained their lead at the top of the SPL table with a 2-1 win over Motherwell.
After a goalless first half former Aston Villa midfielder Davis broke the deadlock just before the hour mark before Novo made sure of the points late on.
There was still time for David Clarkson to set up a tense finale late on, but it proved nothing more than a consolation for Mark McGhee's troops.
Rangers had the bulk of the possession early on and carved out the first opportunity when Davis provided the cross for Kenny Miller in the box and the striker narrowly fired over.
As usual Pedro Mendes was involved in much of the action and supplied a lovely chip for Kris Boyd, who left the ball for Miller, but Graeme Smith managed to smother before the striker could pull the trigger.
Paul Quinn picked up the first booking of the game for a challenge on Mendes, which resulted in the Portuguese playmaker requiring treatment.
Referee Eddie Smith then produced the yellow card twice in quick succession as the game grew more heated, Stephen Craigan cautioned for a foul on Miller and David Weir for dissent.
Miller recovered to collect a pass from Kris Broadfoot, turned and unleashed a ferocious drive that Smith just managed to touch past his left-hand post as Rangers pressed for the opener before the break.
Miller looked most likely to make the breakthrough, this time pouncing on a through-ball from Boyd and managing to squeeze a shot between two amber jerseys - but the effort trundled across the face of goal and wide.
Well had contributed little in terms of goalmouth action but could have taken the lead shortly after the restart.
Stephen Hughes slipped a lovely pass through to Clarkson as he bore down on goal but Alexander was first to the ball to gather before the shot had left the Well striker's boot.
At the other end, DaMarcus Beasley drifted in from the left to meet a Miller pass and drew a decent block from Smith at the near post.
But the Motherwell goalkeeper was plucking the ball out of the net after 56 minutes when Davis pounced on a Miller ball before racing into the box and rifling home with Smith stranded.
Boyd then claimed to have been clipped in the box by Mark Reynolds but no penalty was forthcoming and the striker earned himself a yellow card for his efforts.
Only the heroics of Alexander prevented the visitors from restoring parity when the keeper threw himself across goal and punched a swerving Clarkson effort to safety as Motherwell pushed for an equaliser.
Beasley was withdrawn for the introduction of Novo with 71 minutes gone and the little Spaniard had the three points wrapped up four minutes later.
Miller whipped a teasing ball across the face of goal and Smith's attempts at a clearance fell only as far as Novo six yards out who bundled home without knowing a great deal about the goal.
Motherwell tried to spark a comeback when Clarkson collected a ball from the right and volleyed home from a few yards out with three minutes remaining - but it was too little too late for the Steelmen.