RANGERS under-17s crashed to a shock 4-0 loss to Celtic in the City of Glasgow Cup Final at Ibrox Stadium this evening.
In spite of winning four and drawing one of their five meetings with the side from the other side of the city this season and dominating possession in this match, Billy Kirkwood’s men were well beaten as the trophy went to Parkhead for the third season in a row.
Despite a bright opening period which saw first-team star Liam Burt twice denied by a last-ditch Celtic blocks inside the area, the visitors took the lead against the run of play.
Racing into the area and then finding a yard, Michael Johnston curled the ball beyond the reach of Kieran Wright in the Rangers goal to stun Kirkwood’s young-guns who had been on top for so long in the game.
Their response to that blow was impressive however, with Jack Thomson shooting just wide of the target from 25-yards before Burt had yet another effort cleared by the Celtic defence, this time for a corner from which nothing materialised.
Captain Jamie Barjonas was then closest to levelling matters as his free-kick from just outside the area was magnificently saved by Celtic’s Aidan McAdams down low to his right as the Light Blues’ search for a deserved leveller intensified.
But, again against the run of play, the men in green and white snatched a two-goal advantage six minutes before the interval.
Broque Wilson was allowed to cut in from the left and he reached the penalty spot before firing beyond the reach of Wright down to his left.
This time, Rangers failed to recover well enough from the disappointment and were lucky not to have a three-goal deficit at the break with a Johnston free-kick being clawed off his line by Wright at the last possible moment.
Into the second half, and Kirkwood’s boys began with a renewed vigour, putting the Celtic defence under intense pressure, but they were stunned for a third time as they conceded a shock third goal on the counter.
Shaun Bowers raced down the right-hand touchline before his cross was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Aidan Wilson to all-but put the game beyond Rangers’ reach.
To their credit, they continued to scrap, with Jack Rudden having the best chance of giving the ‘Gers hope when he was denied by McAdams, but the Celtic goal stayed intact throughout the remainder of the half.
At the other end, a miserable night all round was completed in the last minute of normal time as indecision in the ‘Gers defence was capitalised upon by Kieran Campbell who fired beyond Wright to send the trophy back to the East End of the city.
RANGERS: Wright, Houston, Bradley, Thomson (Shiels, 77), Wilson, Mayo, Dallas (Adamson, 58), Barjonas, Rudden, Burt (Jamieson, 60) Kelly.
SUBS NOT USED: Muir, Gray, Breen, Palmer.
CELTIC: McAdams, Bowers, Church, Duffy, Welsh, Bell, Watson, McInroy, Aitchison, Henderson, Johnston.
SUBS: Campbell, Hurst, Thorburn, Antoniazzi, Potter, Deas, Barr.