RANGERS picked up all three points in their Reserve League clash against Dundee United thanks to goals from Jack Thomson and Andy Dallas in a 2-1 win in St Andrews.
Midfielder Thomson broke the deadlock after only nine minutes in the game, firing a powerful low drive beyond the goalkeeper before Dallas extended the visitors’ lead in the second half. A late flurry of attacks from United, including a goal from Lewis Toshney, threatened to take maximum points from Gers’ grasp but they held out for the victory.
Graeme Murty named a starting XI set out in a 4-3-3 formation, Lee Wallace starting at left-back with Cameron Palmer captaining the side. There were also starts for Stephen Kelly and Matty Shiels, both fresh from signing new deals at the club, and for Daniel Finlayson and Dapo Mebude who impressed for the under-17s last season.
Gers goalkeeper Aidan McAdams was forced into early save as the wind and rain threatened to wreak havoc on the league clash, but Rangers didn’t let that stop them as they took the lead after just nine minutes. Good build-up play down the right flank saw Jordan Houston cross into the area only for it to be blocked. The United defender didn’t get enough on it and the ball bounced into space, with Thomson alert to it and firing first time low and hard into the bottom corner with a fine finish.
In terms of possession it was an even first half and even though the Arabs weren’t shy going forward, Rangers always looked comfortable in the game. Dallas forced United goalkeeper Josh Donaldson into a couple of decent stops within three minutes of each other. Firstly, Shiels worked the ball to him on the left side of the box before he shot at goal and then he followed that up shortly after with a strike from the edge of the area, Donaldson stretching well to his left-hand side.
The first half ended after 45 minutes of good quality football despite the strong winds and wet conditions – and that continued in the second half when the sun decided to make an appearance. Serge Atakayi came on for Shiels at the break, occupying the left wing position.
It took Murty’s Gers just six minutes to extend their lead as Dallas got on the scoresheet. Mebude won possession in the centre of the field and played Dallas through to the danger area and the attacker struck with his right foot, the ‘keeper attempting to save but failing as the ball slid under his body and bounced into the back of the net for 2-0.
Midfielder Kelly, whose confidence was quite clearly boosted by the new contract, attempted an audacious shot on the hour mark and didn’t come far away. He won the ball with a strong tackle just inside the United half, took a few strides forward and then tried to loft the ball into the net – Donaldson being forced into a fingertip save to deny him an outrageous goal.
Kelly went close with a low free-kick shortly after as Wallace and Thomson made way for Josh McPake and Scott Gray after 71 minutes. It was around this period that Dundee United began to take control of the match and got themselves back into it after 75 minutes. A corner from the right was headed in by centre back Toshney and it gave them inspiration to try and level proceedings.
The last 15 minutes were a tense affair as United whipped several good crosses into the box, one forcing McAdams into a point blank save from a header. Mebude made way for Maxwell on the 82nd minute as the Gers made their final change, holding out in the end for a deserved victory and three points in the Reserve League.
RANGERS: Aidan McAdams, Jordan Houston, Lewis Mayo, Daniel Finlayson, Stephen Kelly, Jack Thomson, Cameron Palmer (c), Dapo Mebude, Andy Dallas, Matthew Shiels.
SUBS: Nicky Hogarth, Scott Gray, John Balde Josh McPake, Serge Atakayi.