GRAEME MURTY reckons his Rangers reserve side received a “good test” as they drew 2-2 with Wigan Athletic’s under-23s this afternoon in a friendly match.

The Light Blues youngsters have now completed their pre-season schedule, with their attention now turning to next week’s Irn Bru Cup clash with Falkirk’s first team at Forthbank.

Murty reckons today’s draw was a good warm-up for that, although he said: “The game was quite frustrating at times for the players and for the staff as we can play better than what we did in the game, but it was a really good test for us.

“Wigan were physical and they made it a real contest, and it more resembled a first team game in terms of intensity and physicality than your regular academy game, which can be a little bit passive.

“But it was a good test for the guys, a good outing for them, and the appropriate level I think before our game against Falkirk.”

Cammy Palmer and Danny Finlayson, who captained the club’s under-17s last season, got the goals for Gers in Lancashire, and Murty is delighted with how Finlayson and the other younger players have stepped-up to his side.

“It is credit to the staff all the way through the Academy that the guys understand what we are trying to achieve and how we are trying to do it,” he continued.

“It’s not just about the coaching staff at under-20s or reserve level, it is about preparing the guys to make that next step up to the next age group, the next age group and the next age group.

“We need to make sure at each level, they are ready for that appropriate challenge, and that appropriate step.

“So of the guys who came on today, we had Danny Finlayson who played 90 minutes, we had Nicky Hogarth who came on in goal, Murray Miller came on again and Kieran McKechnie made his first appearance for the reserves, and that was really good for those guys to make that next step to that next level to see what that is about.

“Danny Finlayson will tell every single one of you that talk to him about his overhead kick that he scored with, and we are convinced as a staff that it definitely came off his shin.”

The match with Falkirk is a 7.30pm kick-off at Forthbank on Tuesday, and Murty is looking forward to a fantastic test for his boys.

“It is the next stage of their development,” he added. “They have played against their own age group and we have sent them abroad and they have played against their own age group against some really elite teams in some really technical games.

“Now, this is about winning football against players who have mortgages on the line, bonuses on the line and they are doing it now not for a development purpose and not to learn the game, but really, to implement all the stuff they have learned into a match setting to go and try and win.

“That is obviously the next step for them, and I think for all the draws we could have had, this is the one which possibly gives them the biggest challenge and we are really looking forward to it, and we really hope the guys can step up.”

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