RANGERS are SPFL Reserve League Champions for season 2018-19 following their convincing victory over Falkirk this afternoon.
Going into the final day, Gers were level on points with Celtic and Hibernian, but with Hibs having played all 17 of their matches and Gers having scored three more goals than the other half of the Old Firm, Celtic’s 3-2 win over St Johnstone at Lennoxtown wasn’t to matter as they win the title with a goal-difference of plus-four.
Gers were able to call upon the services of midfielder Graham Dorrans for this afternoon’s match as he continues is comeback from injury, while striker Andy Dallas, having completed his loan with Morton, was also in the XI.
Chasing the win which would clinch them the title, the visitors began well at the Falkirk Stadium with Dallas heading a Stephen Kelly ball over the bar early-on.
Indeed, Gers had much of the possession in the opening stages, but on 25 minutes, Falkirk hit the front.
Kevin O’Hara was released down the left wing, and with Gers’ defence stretched, he crossed for the unmarked Nikolay Todorov to fire beyond Kieran Wright from around 12-yards out.
Dorrans tested Robbie Mutch with an effort from 25-yards soon after which the goalkeeper did well to save before on 31 minutes, Gers drew level.
Josh McPake was brought down over on the far-left touchline, presenting the visitors with a decent free-kick opportunity.
Stephen Kelly’s ball to the back post was a good one, and there, Rhys Breen got above marker Patrick Brough to loop a header over Mutch and into the back of the net for 1-1.
Kelly then struck the post from just inside the area following excellent setup work from Matty Shiels on the left, and then with five minutes to go to the break, the Light Blues took the lead in very familiar circumstances.
This time a corner from Kelly was met by Breen at the back-post, and he managed to get the ball across goal for Dallas.
Dallas looked to force the ball over the line, despite the best efforts of Mutch, but in any case, the rebound fell for Lewis Mayo to make sure on the second attempt.
The match, and indeed the title could have been made safe at the start of the second half with Kelly playing a sublime ball into the path of Shiels as he entered the area to the left of goal, but Mutch denied him at his near post.
Dapo Mebude was next to go close, firing wide from the edge of the ‘D’, while Shiels himself came close to an excellent goal, cutting in from the left and drifting right across the face of goal to work the angle before firing over.
The chances were starting to mount up for Gers, with McPake hitting the post on the half-volley from 25-yards as Dallas cushioned a header into his path, while Dorrans crashed one off the crossbar from even further out to the right of the target.
Super interplay at the edge of the box ended with Mebude firing straight at Mutch, while McPake also ha a great opportunity at the end of a great break led by Dallas, although dallying on the final shot allowed the Bairns to get bodies back.
Then, with two minutes left on the clock, Gers were awarded a penalty, with McPake brought doen by Scott Reekie on the by-line.
Up-stepped Dallas to take, and he fired the ball high into the roof of the net to set the seal on victory and on the title, although their victory could have been even more comfortable.
RANGERS: Wright; Houston, Mayo, Breen, Shiels; Palmer, Kelly (Williamson, 87), Dorrans; McPake, Dallas, Mebude.
SUBS NOT USED: Hogarth, Finlayson, Patterson, Maxwell, Kennedy, Dickson.
FALKIRK: Mutch, Mitchell, Brough, Diakite, Reekie, Kidd, Jarvis, Langan, Todorov, Lavery, O’Hara.
SUBS: Fasan, Maclean.
REFEREE: Stewart Luke