IN the end, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it was one step too many for Motherwell to take, one challenge too great for them to overcome.

There will naturally be a disappointment and frustration at that fact, but there is also a realisation at Fir Park.

The schedule got the better of Stephen Robinson's side, and so did Rangers. With some ease.

When Robinson's players returned from Coleraine earlier this month, they were able to dig deep and produce a performance that earned them a 3-0 win at Aberdeen.

The double header against Hapoel Be'er Sheva and Rangers was always going to be a sharp rise, though. A 3-0 defeat in Israel was followed by Sunday's 5-1 loss to Steven Gerrard's side as Motherwell - whose goal came through the unfortunate George Edmundson - failed to land a blow.

"It’s maybe easy to turn to the tiredness and use it as an excuse, but it is inevitable," Ricki Lamie, the Motherwell defender, said. "There was a bit of fatigue. We’ve played in midweek the last few weeks, but so have Rangers. They have been tough games and that was always going to take it’s toll.

"We had 120 minutes in Ireland, we go up to Pittodrie and got a positive result then another long journey to Israel. We were well looked after but it was going to take it’s toll.

“We had a couple of half chances but we didn’t capitalise and were beaten by the better side.

“I think we could have been more compact, myself personally as well, especially when Rangers were bringing in guys like (Jordan) Jones who was fresh. Unfortunately for us it never happened.

“It’s about resting and recuperating, but also reflecting on the games. The other night in Israel was a learning experience and when you concede five goals there’s plenty to look at what you’ve done individually and collectively.

“That’s a massive part of our game and we need to put it right for Friday night as Kilmarnock is a massive game.

“There are positives from the last half a dozen games but there are also things we need to improve and go again.”

The late brace from substitute Cedric Itten added a deserved shine to the scoreline for Rangers but the damage had been done far earlier.

The two penalties converted by James Tavernier - either side of a fine effort from Jones - were the seventh and eight spot-kicks Motherwell have conceded this season as Bevis Mugabi and Liam Grimshaw were penalised for handball.

Lamie said: “I don’t think anyone can put their finger on it. It would be easy to just say it’s misfortune but there’s too many to say that.

“There are errors at every penalty you can pinpoint.

“But I think collectively sometimes we are guilty of inviting it. On Sunday if you concede numerous amounts of set pieces or invite balls in to your box, then the likelihood of a ricochet or something going against you is heightened.

“We’ll need to put it right as we can’t keep conceding goals like that. It feels like for the most part defensively strong but if you are giving away set pieces and penalties you will be up against it.

“We’ve lost 18 goals this season – and eight of them have been penalties. Trevor Carson is an amazing goalkeeper but it’s a free shot at goal from 12 yards and nine times out of 10 it’s in the back of the net.

“If you keep giving them away you are leaving yourself with a mountain to climb. Unfortunately for us it was a double from the penalty spot on Sunday and it doesn’t make it any easier.”