RANGERS set up another Glasgow Cup final clash with Celtic right at the death as Glenn Middleton’s injury-time penalty ensured victory over Queen’s Park at the Hummel Training Centre this evening.
The 1-0 win in the semi-final clash was far from certain through the game, with Rangers seeing several opportunities fall their way in the match but ultimately failing to break the deadlock.
That was until injury time in the tie. With a penalty shoot-out looming, substitute Nathan Young-Coombes was brought down on the edge of the area near the touchline and Glenn Middleton converted it to grab the winner.
Rangers faced their Glasgow counterparts in the round-robin stage of the competition back in early February, running out comfortable 5-1 winners at the training ground. The Glasgow Cup has been revamped for this campaign of course, for the four sides’ Under-20 contingents. Some of tonight’s matchday squad, including Daniel Finlayson, Ciaran Dickson and Dapo Mebude, played in the Gers’ 3-0 victory over Celtic in the final last year when it was still a tournament for Under-17 talent.
Rangers threatened as early as five minutes in as they looked to get a quick opener in the tie. Midfielder Kelly had the vision to spot a run from Middleton on the edge of the danger area and the winger fizzed a shot at goalkeeper at Kieran McDougall, who saved well down to his left for a corner.
There was then two crosses that could have resulted in the Gers’ opener, first through Finlayson whose delivery actually forced the Queen’s Park stopper McDougall into a save, and secondly Serge Atakayi’s drilled effort across the box was inches away from being met by a Gers player in the box.
Liam Burt, playing the most advanced of the midfield three, tested McDougall from the edge of the box with a powerful low drive to win a corner after 20 minutes with Murty’s side pushing hard for a breakthrough in the first half, dominating the ball and looking dangerous in the final third.
Just before the half-hour mark, the visitors themselves threatened to get on the scoresheet, left-back Josh Black pinging a left-footed shot wide of Kieran Wright’s left-hand post in Queen’s Park first real moment of danger for Rangers.
Queen’s Park were sitting in deep for most of the first half and on 41 minutes, Middleton went close with a shot in a crowded penalty area, McDougall tipping the low effort onto the post to his right-hand side and still, Rangers couldn’t find the elusive opening goal.
Rangers found it difficult to fashion any chances in the opening exchanges of the second period until the hour mark, where Middleton saw a rasping shot hit off the crossbar before Kelly made the goalkeeper work with another shot from 18 yards or so.
Rangers made a double change on 68 minutes with Burt and Atakayi making way for Mebude and Young-Coombes with the youngsters desperate to find a way past the stubborn Spiders.
Rangers continued to press but to no avail, Queen’s Park defended incredibly well while the Gers were frustrated at not being able to find the all-important winning goal.
Then, with the referee just minutes away from blowing the full-time whistle and taking the game to penalties, Rangers ironically were awarded a penalty. A hopeful ball was played from the right side to try and find Young-Coombes, and the English attacker’s determination was rewarded as he brought down on the very edge of the box with little danger around for Queen’s Park.
Middleton stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with his left foot to set up another Old Firm derby clash in the final.
RANGERS: Kieran Wright, Daniel Finlayson, Aidan Wilson, Lewis Mayo, James Maxwell, Cameron Palmer (c), Stephen Kelly, Liam Burt, Serge Atakayi, Glenn Middleton, Josh McPake.
SUBS: Nicky Hogarth, Alex Lowry, Ciaran Dickson, Leon King, Joao Balde, Nathan Young-Coombes, Dapo Mebude.