RANGERS under-20s were left to rue yet more defensive lapses as they went down 3-0 to Celtic in this afternoon’s derby clash at Lennoxtown.
In what were at times quite farcical conditions with Storm Henry raging through the Campsies, Rangers more than held their own for the bulk of the first half before a nightmare 10 minute period either side of the interval saw the game go well beyond their reach.
With Mark Warburton’s first team in action at Raith Rovers tomorrow evening, Rangers’ squad was made up entirely of Academy players while Celtic had the luxury of being able to field Scotland international Charlie Mulgrew in midfield along with Ryan Christie who continues his return from a knee injury having signed from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the summer as part of a vastly more experienced starting XI.
Rangers began the game brightly and forged the first opportunity of the game when the ball fell to Jordan Thompson outside the area to take on a shot, but it slipped just over the top of the bar.
Liam Burt was showing some of the form that earned him a place on the first-team bench for Saturday’s win over Falkirk, and he played a great ball out o the right wing for the waiting Ryan Hardie who burst into the box, but he chose to shoot and found only the arms of Leonardo Fasan in the Celtic goal rather than the waiting Scott Roberts in the six-yard box.
In terms of opportunities for Rangers, that was pretty much their lot for the afternoon although they continued to compete well all over the pitch.
The Light Blues were given a warning shot as Eoghan O’Connell won a free header from a Mulgrew free-kick, but he nodded over the bar just a few yards out from Robby McCrorie’s goal.
Just two minutes before the break, Celtic did manage to get in front with their goal coming from the impressive Aidan Nesbitt. Christie began the move, finding the run of Calvin Miller down the left flank, and he crossed for Nesbitt who finished at the near-post from only a few yards out.
Seconds later, it was very nearly 2-0, but Ryan Sinnamon produced an incredible last-ditch tackle to prevent Christie knocking home from close-range.
Into the second half, and Rangers pressed the self-destruct button five minutes after the restart to hand Celtic their two-goal advantage on a plate. Goalkeeper Robby McCrorie’s clearance only found Paul McMullan on the edge of the area and he raced into the area before squaring for Christie to fire home into the net.
Three minutes later, it was effectively game over with McMullan again the provider, slipping the ball through for Nesbitt to apply the finish and make it 3-0.
To their credit, Rangers continued to fight for every ball but they struggled to make any real inroads into the Celtic half, and the closing period saw Ross McCrorie, substitute Jamie Brandon and Jordan Thompson all booked as frustration began to take over.
RANGERS: Robby McCrorie, Sinnamon, Ross McCrorie, Brownlie, Mills, Thompson, Dykes, Lyon (Jeffries, 60), Burt (Brandon, 75), Roberts (Gibson, 60), Hardie.
SUBS NOT USED: Wright, Lang, Currie, Ashmore.