RANGERS’ Development side ended their impressive Games Programme with a 3-1 home defeat to Burnley.
The youngsters faced the English side in front of a crowd at Ibrox in the Sunday afternoon sunshine and despite entertaining them in spells – particular the opening half an hour – they couldn’t produce a result in the end.
The match brings the curtain down on the 2017/18 season for the Development Squad, with Rangers taking on England and Europe’s best across a campaign of high-quality friendlies.
Rangers were dominant in both possession and creating opportunities for most of the first half and it was Stephen Kelly that broke the deadlock early on, blasting the ball into the back of the net from 12 yards at the Broomloan Road end.
Burnley got themselves into the game towards the end of the first period with goals from Rob Harker and Tinashe Chakwana, before Harker further extended the visitor’s advantage midway through the second half.
Billy Kirkwood lined his side up in a 4-2-3-1 system, Jack Thomson skippering the side in the heart of midfield, Glenn Middleton and Serge Atakayi providing the width on the flanks with Zak Rudden once again leading the line.
The first big opportunity came after seven minutes and it fell the way of the home side. A through ball was chased down by Rudden and the striker intelligently backheeled the ball into the path of Glenn Middleton in the box. The winger’s effort beat Aiden Stone in the Burnley goal but was superbly cleared off the line by defender Oli Younger.
It wasn’t long until Rangers opened the scoring through Kelly. The ball was worked to the right flank where Middleton was in space, and the former Norwich City youngster played in a low ball to the waiting Kelly – who made no mistake with a drilled finish past the goalkeeper for 1-0.
Middleton had a pop himself five minutes later as Atakayi beat his man on the byline on the left-hand side before cutting it back, but Middleton’s effort was cleared away for a corner by a Burnley defence under a lot of pressure in the early stages.
Rangers were by far the dominant team in the first 25 minutes produced wave after wave of attack at Ibrox, with the midfield and attack all impressing the afternoon sunshine.
It then came as a surprise when, with 35 minutes on the clock, Burnley levelled the game. An outswinging corner from the right side was whipped in and substitute Harker rose the highest and guided his header into the back of the net.
And Burnley took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Rangers lost their way in a first half they dominated until conceding. The ball came in from the right and the young Gers defence failed to deal with it, Chakwana directing the ball into the same corner of the goal as his side’s equaliser just under ten minutes before.
Rangers started the second half brightly and in almost identical situation to the opening goal, Middleton was the provider from the right flank and found the energetic Kelly – but this time the midfielder put his effort wide of the post.
Burnley extended their lead on 67 minutes and it was Harker who claimed his second of the afternoon – latching on to a cross from the right byline and forcing the ball past Rangers’ substitute goalkeeper Kieran Wright’s right-hand side.
Burnley centre-back Younger was the last-gasp hero on the line for his side again on 76 minutes when, after promising play from Rudden advancing into the danger area, substitute Andy Dallas was fed the ball. He picked his spot beyond the ‘keeper but Younger was there to block and clear the danger yet again.
Rangers threatened towards the end of the game but couldn’t make a dent in Burnley’s advantage and ended the season in defeat – but with their heads held high after many impressive performances and results throughout the season.
RANGERS: Aidan McAdams (Kieran Wright, 60), Jordan Houston (Michael Hewitt, 81), Kyle Bradley, Lewis Mayo, Matthew Shiels (Scott Gray, 81), Jack Thomson, Stephen Kelly, Jamie Barjonas (Liam Burt, 67), Glenn Middleton, Zak Rudden, Serge Atakayi (Andy Dallas, 67).
SUBS: Kieran Wright, Andrew Dallas, Liam Burt, Scott Gray, Michael Hewitt, Kyle McClelland, Cameron Palmer.