THE Youth Cup Final beckons for the Rangers Under 20 side after they produced an impressive extra-time performance to come out 4-1 winners over Kilmarnock.

It was 1-1 before the additional minutes with Ross McCrorie grabbing an equaliser. Ryan Hardie, Jordan Gibson and Josh Jeffries all struck in extra-time to send the Gers through.

Celtic play Motherwell in the second semi-final which will decide who the young Light Blues will face at Hampden.

Head of Academy Craig Mulholland said: “We were delighted with their performance; I think we had hoped to get the result before extra time but the boys were excellent.

“I think the biggest thing for us is that when we decided at the start of the season to play younger players in the 20s group that we never anticipated perhaps reaching the Youth Cup Final.

“We had 15, 16 and 17-year-olds playing yesterday against a Kilmarnock team who had final year 20s.

“So the boys have gone way ahead of where we thought they would be in terms of our strategy at this point and we are delighted.

“That is them now won five of their last six games and we didn’t anticipate that we still thought it would be more of a struggle for them given the age difference but they have really come on leaps and bounds.

“Every one of our starting 11 yesterday can play in the competition again next year so if we can get them that experience now then great.

“We don’t know who the final will be against yet but if it does end up being an Old Firm final at Hampden with a big crowd then it is a great experience for all of them sometimes that prepares them for the first-team sooner.”

Academy goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart has stepped up to help coach the Development League side while Graeme Murty has been occupied with the first-team.

Mulholland says he and his academy staff have been impressed and surprised by how quickly their young side have adapted this season.

He continued: “In the first half of the season we expected them to struggle and they did struggle a little bit because you have 15 or 16-year-old boys playing against men who are 27 or 28 in the Development League.

“We expected towards the end of this season that they would start to adjust to that and accelerate their development as players.

“In the second-half of the season they have started that much sooner than we anticipated they would do.

“They have now started to get the results and they have now started to play against men and play with a style that a young Rangers side should do.”

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