DAVID McCallum praised his young side as they kicked off their CAS under-18’s league campaign with a 2-0 win over Greenock Morton tonight.
With a number of under-18’s players involved in tomorrow’s Development squad game against Ajax, a selection of under-16’s players had been moved up to McCallum’s squad for the league opener.
Two second-half goals from Matt Yates and Ross McCausland saw Rangers to the win at the Hummel Training Centre.
McCallum said: “It was a game where we have got a number of players away to the Reserve game over at Ajax but we were really keen to get started in the league this week.
“What it did do was provide us with an opportunity to bring some younger lads up from the under-16 squad and challenge them along with the ones that are still part of the 18’s.
“In terms of the game I thought we had a lot of control in the first half without carrying much threat.
“I think second half I thought we had a better threat without having as much control so it was one of those games we tried to challenge the players to threaten their back line more often and we did that but we lost a little bit of control of the game second half so that is something we will obviously learn from.
“We played Adam Devine as a central midfielder tonight which is different for him and we put him in there because we felt that we could use him to build and he did that very very well.
“We didn’t carry enough threat beyond that and that was something we challenged the players to do at half-time and I thought it was clear in the second half particularly in the way that we created more chances from players running without the ball and not having to be in possession of the ball to influence the game.
“Ross has had his chance which we have spoken about in there he has actually rounded the goalkeeper but came back for a tackle which is a little bit bizarre but I think when we create chances we are always feeling that we have got the guys on the pitch that can make the difference and do that.
“In fairness to Morton they have had a couple of chances as well and they have tried to threaten our goal and in the first half I felt actually carried more final third threat than we did even although we had more possession.
“When you are at nothing each for so long there’s always a chance that although you have had a lot of possession that you could lose one so credit to the lads.”
McCallum praised his young side, including 15-year-old goalkeeper Jack McConnell.
He added: “We also take into consideration as well we have got an under-16 goalkeeper and he has had a couple of saves that has kept us in a position to see out the game 2-0.
“We’ve got a young goal keeper in and we have finished the game with I think four or five under-16’s on the pitch.
“They probably didn’t expect to see under-18’s football so early in the season but when we spoke about putting the game on tonight we need to trust these players and we need to challenge them and tonight they have managed that.
“We will be able to look back and see bits that we have done well and show the players that but also look at areas where we want to improve so that we can get the control along with the creative bit at the same time and not have to go and give one up to get the other.”
Next up for the under-18’s is Kilmarnock at the Hummel Training Centre next Friday evening, where McCallum is expecting another tough game.
He said: “We played them twice last season and I think we drew with them in the first game of the season last year 2-2 so it will be tough.
“They are always difficult to break down but we want to try and make sure we take advantage of having this good pitch and playing in this facility and try and make sure that anybody that comes here have to come and deal with a difficult team and a team that wants to dominate the ball but carry a lot of threat at the right times as well.”