ONCE again, the run ended at two. This time, it was the result that Rangers wanted, however.

The failure to win a hat-trick of games became the story of the first part of the campaign for the Light Blues but they will now head into the second half of the season having avoided an unwanted series in recent days.

Back-to-back defeats to St Johnstone and Kilmarnock ensured this meeting with Motherwell was one of the biggest of Graeme Murty’s time in the dugout. Now, an even more significant outing awaits at Parkhead on Saturday.

The Old Firm clash will present a far different challenge for Murty but it is one that Rangers can at least approach with a win behind them as goals from Danny Wilson and Alfredo Morelos proved enough to see off the Steelmen.

In terms of the performance, there remains plenty of scope for improvement for Rangers. This one was all about the result, though.

Gers fans made their way to Ibrox for the final time this year expecting a reaction after successive top flight losses that piled the pressure on Murty and his under-performing side.

The Light Blues boss made three changes from the team that was beaten at Rugby Park as Bruno Alves, Niko Kranjcar and Eduardo Herrera returned to the starting line-up.

But Rangers should have been behind inside the opening minute as the ball broke to Craig Tanner on the edge of the area. The forward fired his shot straight at Wes Foderingham, though.

It quickly developed into a scrappy affair as a series of misplaced passes and fouls ensured there was little to bring the home crowd to their feet. For most of the night, the only noises that emanated from the stands were appeals and howls as referee John Beaton again came under fire for an erratic performance.

Clear opportunities were few and far between. James Tavernier couldn’t find the target when he burst into the area but the best chance fell to Morelos after 13 minutes. Tavernier’s pass over the top found Kranjcar and when his shot was blocked by Trevor Carson, the Colombian couldn’t capitalise as he scooped an effort high over the bar.

Foderingham was virtually untroubled at the other end but two injury incidents ensured there would be eight minutes added before the teams returned up the tunnel.

The first stoppage saw Carl McHugh replaced by Allan Campbell. The midfielder suffered a knock early on after a challenge with Herrera and he didn’t last long as Motherwell took no chances a year after he returned to action following a concussion that saw him miss the first half of the campaign.

Rangers also had to make a change in the middle of the park and this was just as big a blow as Ryan Jack was stretchered off. The 25-year-old knocked the ball by Cedric Kipre as he drove forward but the Frenchman left his mark and he caught him on the knee.

Jack was in clear discomfort when he left the field to be replaced by Jamie Barjonas as Murty had to redraw his plans before the interval.

Kipre was booked moments later for catching Herrera in the face with a high boot and the Mexican also had to receive treatment as the Ibrox crowd vented their fury. When Richard Tait went through Jason Holt, the anger levels from the home ranks increased as referee John Beaton flashed another yellow card.

Motherwell had played little football in the first half as they employed the kind of physical approach that infuriated Rangers during the League Cup clash at Hampden in October.

But they could have snatched the lead just before the whistle as Tait flicked the ball into the path of Tanner. His finish beat Foderingham this time, but it was the wrong side of the far post as Rangers breathed a sigh of relief.

They made the most of the reprieve. Kranjcar had wasted a decent chance as he ballooned a shot high and wide of target before Carson saved from Morelos.

From the resulting corner, Wilson found the net. Barjonas and Alves kept the ball alive and Wilson marked his 26th birthday with a terrific strike that left Carson helpless as he found the top corner from the angle of the area.

It was a goal that Rangers deserved on the balance of play but Motherwell still fancied their chances as the clock ticked down and the foul count ticked over.

Morelos was denied by Carson after a neat ball from Kranjcar before Barjonas’ effort on the follow up was blocked. Rangers needed a second goal to ease the Ibrox nerves.

With 15 minutes left, they got it. Wilson was the provider this time as he lifted the ball over the Well defence and Morelos had time and space to control it and pick his spot in the far corner.

The game was won and the points were secured for Rangers. Carlos Pena replaced Kranjcar, while Ryan Hardie took over from Morelos as Murty gave him an early night ahead of the trip to Parkhead this weekend.

Victory over Celtic would be the ideal way to round off a tumultuous year for Rangers but this showing will have done little to enthuse supporters ahead of derby day.

Rangers didn’t do much, but they did just enough. Right now, that is as good as it gets.