ALTHOUGH the Rangers Under 20s lost to Stenhousemuir in the Challenge Cup Billy Kirkwood believes only good can come from the defeat.

The youngsters battled with the League One side in a test that their current coach knows they wouldn’t experience in the youth leagues.

That exposure to the senior game, according to Kirkwood, will help improve and educate the Light Blues youth.

Kirkwood said: “It was disappointing in terms of the result but we are delighted that the young kids got the opportunity to get exposed to this kind of level of football.

“The manager always wants our kids challenged and playing in games like that we need that week in and week out for our kids.

“I think when you get to under 20s or under 17s you need a greater challenge on a weekly basis, rather than playing kids of their own age and learn from the mistakes that they need to make.

“I thought Stenhousemuir set up well, 3-5-2, to try and stifle us, which they did, and then they got the first goal which made it very difficult for us.

“Each of the goals which we lost we could analyse it and there are three or four mistakes in each of them.

“But on the positive side they aren’t getting exposed to that at under 20 level so the more exposure they get to this type of game, when they are playing men, then they are going to get tested and the more they get tested the quicker they will improve.

“It’s even the knowhow, it’s not down to the fitness, it’s not down to the technical ability, it is just down to knowing how to play the game of football.

“Colin McMenamin for their first goal drifts between the centre-half and the left-back and takes up a great position and they put a great cross in, could we do better to stop the cross? I think we could but it is a great header.

“The second goal young Ross McCrorie dribbles with the ball when he should be passing and got caught out. It is a free-kick and we don’t defend the free-kick properly and lose a second goal just when we thought we were starting to come back into the game.

“Hardie and Rudden had wee opportunities and we were hoping to get to half-time 1-0 down, make a couple of changes and hopefully get a bit of impetuous in the second-half.

“I thought over the piece we didn’t really have a fluency in our play and that is credit to Stenhousemuir.”

Rangers welcomed back Ryan Hardie and Jordan Thompson from their current development loans with St Mirren and Raith Rovers for the game.

Kirkwood admits those types of moves benefit the players immediately, Hardie netted Gers only goal of the game and should have snatched another at the death.

He continued: “The bottom line for us as a department is to make sure our young kids get the exposure.

“Ryan Hardie I thought played well but he has been out on loan and knows what it’s all about, same with Jordan Thompson who played really well.

“They come back with that experience and it is really important that all our young kids get more experiences like this.

“If they make a million mistakes it doesn’t matter, as long as they learn from it and progress to become Rangers first-team players.”

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