RANGERS bagged another victory in their Games Programme as they defeated Danish side F.C. Copenhagen.
First-half goals from Zak Rudden and Lewis Mayo gave the Development Squad the win after the visitors took an early lead against the run of play.
It was an impressive and battling display against a team who have competed in the UEFA Youth League this season.
The Gers controlled the opening period and Serge Atakayi nearly opened the scoring after just a couple of minutes. Rudden flashed a ball in from the left and it would have been a sure goal for the Finnish Under 21 at the far post if Jacob Haahr hadn’t made a last gasp clearing header.
Stephen Kelly had the youngsters first shot on target a minute later with an effort from outside the box. It was easily held by Filip Djukic in goal though.
To complete a dominant first five minutes for Billy Kirkwood’s side the bright Glenn Middleton found Kelly centrally with a cute lay off from the left. The midfielder narrowly shot over the crossbar.
Failure to convert any of those early chances cost Rangers though when Copenhagen found the net with their first attack on nine minutes. Felix Winters drilling a half volley into the bottom corner beyond Liam Kelly after the ball came flying into the back post from the right.
It meant that despite controlling the game so far the Light Blues now needed to find a goal to prove it. With 18 minutes gone Rudden had the chance to do just that with a right footed shot from the edge of the box. He hit the ball low and Djukic scrambled to get down and save from the striker.
Rudden was looking lively and two minutes later he collected a Liam Kelly clearance over the top up field. He cushioned the ball before watching his attempted lob shave the crossbar.
A minute later Rudden had his goal. Middleton sent a ball along the by-line with pace and the Leith-born-boy was there at the back post to guide it over the line. Rangers now had something to show for their effort.
With 25 minutes played Middleton went agonisingly close to a second. Atakayi, playing on the left-wing, did brilliant to cut back off the by-line and wrestle free from the Copenhagen defence. He found his fellow winger with a square ball across the top of the box and only the help of a deflection managed to skew Middleton’s shot wide of the left upright.
Apart from their goal the visitors hadn’t shown much going forward but caused momentary worry just before the half hour mark. Marten Hjulmand fired a shot over after he was found 20 yards out unmarked. The Dane was always off balance which threw his effort off and Liam Kelly had the danger covered in goal.
The Gers kept their pressure up at the other end and Jordan Rossister, starting and captaining the side again, did well to win the ball in the right channel five minutes before the break. The former Liverpool man put Atakayi in with a shooting chance but he couldn’t manage the switch to his stronger foot and was forced to lay off to Stephen Kelly. Kelly dragged his eventually strike just wide.
But on 43 minutes Rangers had their second and eventually winner through an unlikely source, Lewis Mayo. The defender rose highest at the near post to plant a superb header into the top corner from a Kelly corner.
To say it was a game of two halves would be an accurate description. For all the Development Squad’s chances in the first-half it all but dried up in the second. The Gers battled hard to keep their lead but couldn’t create any magic as the attacking wide threats of Atakayi and Middleton were shut down. Rossiter and Barjonas did well to break up play in the centre of the pitch as the defence thwarted Copenhagen’s attacks too.
Rangers’ best chance in the second half came from Rudden just before the hour mark. The striker placing an angled side footed effort the wrong side of the post.
RANGERS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD: Kelly, Houston, Bradley, Mayo, Shiels (Gray 82’), Rossiter (Thomson 70’), Kelly, Barjonas, Middleton, Rudden (Palmer 82’), Atakayi.
Subs not used: McAdams, Hewitt.
Goals: Rudden 22′ Mayo 43′