THE quality of Rangers’ three goals in tonight’s win over Cove Rangers thrilled coach David McCallum as Gers booked their place in the semi-final of the SFA Youth Cup.

After being held by a well-organised Cove outfit at the break, wonderful individual efforts from Josh McPake and Joao Balde, with a curling James Maxwell effort sandwiched in between, ensured the Light Blues’ name is in the hat for the last four following the 3-0 success.

Speaking to rangers.co.uk, McCallum explained: “The three goals were excellent. We said to them if we can we find a way to play forward rather than find the easy option and go back the way, and challenge ourselves to go and find a more creative pass as opposed to one that is safe.

“So that was great. Joao Balde – some of the things that Joao can do, I don’t think any of us can teach him.

“He does things off the cuff and it can be really productive as it was on that occasion.

“James Maxwell is maybe a wee bit different in the sense that he danced in off the side and curled the ball in to the far corner.

“So three excellent goals – it could have been more – but a lot of credit to Cove Rangers for making our job difficult tonight.”

McCallum was pleased with how his players overcame a number of different challenges tonight, not least it being the first chance many of the lads have had to run out at Ibrox.

He continued: “I think we got better as the game went on. It’s a new experience for a lot of the lads – I asked them just after the game who had played at Ibrox and who hadn’t – and the vast majority hadn’t.

“So that in itself maybe added to a little bit of anxiety in the first half and a wee bit of tension.

“But I think once we settled down and we played the way we expected to play – played quicker with less touches and played forward rather than going back so easily, I think the second half was better for us and we created more chances as a result.

“Earlier in the cup, we played East Kilbride and it was similar to a certain degree and we were obviously much more clinical in that game when we got our chances.

“But I think in fairness to Cove, they had said before the game the fact the game was coming to Ibrox, they realised it might also be new to us and would make it just as challenging, but I think from their point of view, yes, they sat back and they defended well and the chances we did create in the first half, they put the bodies on the line and made sure it was really difficult for us to break them down.

“And the longer the game goes at 0-0, then it could have caused a little bit of anxiety and tension in the group, but Josh McPake can do what he does on an individual level and open chances for himself – and he did that – and I think that allowed us to relax a little bit more and go and enjoy the game a bit better as it went on.”

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