Ian Durrant’s side continued their preparations for the new campaign and they were given a stern examination by the Irish League part-timers.

The match was a testimonial for Ballymena goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson and he was quickly in action, acrobatically tipping over Ross McCrorie’s header from Ross Lyon’s corner early on.

Rangers’ sharp passing caught the eye at times but their final ball often lacked penetration.

The Ibrox youngsters fell behind on 12 minutes when former Gretna and Greenock Morton midfielder Allan Jenkins – who now plies his trade across the Irish Sea with Ballymena – dispossessed an opponent and bore down on goal before unselfishly squaring the ball for Matthew Tipton to roll the ball home from 10 yards.

It might have got worse for the visitors soon afterwards as United midfielder Eoin Kane seized upon a loose ball and advanced towards goal but just as he was about to shoot from the edge of the penalty area, he was denied by an inch-perfect sliding tackle by McCrorie.

With a number of changes made at the interval, Rangers began to assert themselves and Lewis White crossed from the left but his full-back partner Ross Sinnamon couldn’t get a clean header at the back post.

Eventually, however, Rangers’ efforts were rewarded when Josh Jeffries, only on the pitch a matter of minutes, fired home after Nelson had parried Andy Murdoch’s shot.

Nelson did superbly to keep out Dylan Dykes’ piledriver at full stretch while at the other end, Ballymena continued to pose a threat and Robby McCrorie made a tremendous instinctive save to block Neal Gawley’s effort.

Andy Murdoch forced a save out of Nelson’s replacement Macauley Cairns, while the same player dragged a shot wide of the far post with the last attack of the game.

Rangers complete their tour on Friday night with a match against another Irish Premiership side Coleraine.

RANGERS: Rob McCrorie, Ryan Sinammon (Tom Lang 64), Lewis White (Jamie Brandon 70), Max Ashmore (Dylan Dykes 46), Ross McCrorie (Craig Halkett 46), Luca Gasporotto (David Brownlie 46), Robbie Crawford (Josh Jeffries 64), Andy Murdoch, Calum Gallagher (Daniel Stoney 46), Ross Lyon, Scott Roberts (Darren Ramsay 46).

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