RANGERS came from two goals down to defeat league-leading Hibernian and launch themselves into the Reserve title race at the Hummel Training Centre this afternoon.

Ryan Gauld and Oli Shaw had Hibs 2-0 up inside 10 minutes, but Glenn Middleton leveled matters before the interval with a double before Stephen Kelly grabbed a super free-kick winner with five minutes left.

The opening stages of the match were hotly contested in the middle of the park, with neither side giving much away at all, but on seven minutes, the opening chance of the match fell to Ryan Gauld from which he made no mistake.

From the right, Lewis Allan worked a yard of  space to cross and while Aidan Wilson made a decent block, the rebound fell to Gauld for the on-loan Sporting Lisbon man to fire beyond Wright.

Three minutes later, the experienced Hibees made it 2-0, though Gers would have been disappointed to go to sleep at a routine set-piece.

Spotting the run of Oli Shaw, Gauld  picked him out with a quick free-kick as the striker ran in-behind the Gers defence, with Shaw retaining his composure to stroke the ball by Wright.

The home side, to their credit, responded well to falling two behind, and indeed, Lassana Coulibaly had a decent chance soon after to pull one back, albeit from a slightly tight angle following super work from Liam Burt.

Then, on 29 minutes, Gers indeed did get back into the match with a quite excellent goal.

Picking the ball up in midfield, Cammy Palmer drove powerfully towards the box and spotted the run of Glenn Middleton to his right.

Sending the ball to the edge of the area on the right-hand side, Middleton shifted the ball onto his left and with both Darnell Johnson and Premier League goalkeeper Adam Bogdan to beat, he curled a wonderful effort into the far top corner to give his side hope.

And they carried that belief forward, dominating possession before equalising six minutes later.

A quite excellent flick from Liam Burt put Middleton in one-on-one with Bogdan, and while the goalkeeper came out on top, the ball dropped to Coulibaly.

Again Bogdan saved, but again he couldn’t clear it far enough with Middleton there to put the ball in the back of the net from 10 yards to level things up.

Soon after, Burt was inches away from connecting to a super Matty Shiels ball into the area in the six-yard box, while he had a half-volley from the edge of the box blocked by a Hibs defender.

It really was a superb match, and the visitors were unlucky not to be leading at the break with Sean Mackie whacking Wright’s left post with an effort from fully 35 yards.

Rangers kicked-off the second half on top once again, and Middleton was denied his hat-trick by a Jonathan Spector block following a great cross from Shiels.

Hibs were then reduced to 10-men on 65 minutes with Fraser Murray shown a straight red for a shocking lunge on Cammy Palmer, with the Gers man fortunately escaping serious injury.

Bogdan denied Middleton as he shot for goal having turned on the edge of the area, before he pushed clear a Stephen Kelly effort from similar distance soon after.

But with five minutes to go, Bogdan was beaten by Kelly thanks to a superb free-kick from the young midfielder.

25-yards out from goal having been fouled himself, he curled the ball up and over the lengthy Hibs wall and found the top postage stamp, with Bogdan just unable to reach it.

It was a sublime effort, and one that saw Gers win the game knowing three wins from their final three games should clinch them the title.

 

RANGERS: Wright; Houston, Mayo, Wilson (Finlayson, 57), Shiels; Polster, Palmer (Mebude, 72), Coulibaly; Kelly, Burt (McPake, 57), Middleton.

SUBS NOT USED: Budinauckas, Young-Coombes, Kennedy, Maxwell.

HIBERNIAN: Bogdan, Stirling, Mackie, Spector, Johnson, Bigirimana, Agyepong, Gauld, Allan, Murray, Shaw.

 

 

 

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