RANGERS narrowly lost out to Celtic in this evening’s City of Glasgow Cup Final at Firhill.
The Light Blues fell behind early-on to a Ewan Henderson goal but equalised just before half time through Matthew Shiels. Despite dominating the start of the second half, Gers again found themselves chasing the game as Jack Aitchison struck, but this time there was to be no way back.
Understandably, both sides were nervous in the opening exchanges, with many passes going astray and there being a real, scrappy nature to the tie.
Six minutes in, and it was Celtic who created the first chance with Ewan Henderson being denied twice in quick succession by a pair of outstanding Rangers blocks in front of goal, firstly from Cammy Palmer and then captain Jordan Houston.
It was Celtic who were making much of the play in the early stages, and they took the lead after 17 minutes through the aforementioned Henderson.
Jack Aitchison brought out a smart stop from Brian Kinnear in the Gers goal but he could push the ball into the path of the incoming Henderson who slammed the ball into the back of the net.
Rangers responded though, and were nearly level after a superb piece of skill from Zak Rudden. After picking up a Scott Gray throw on the edge of the box with his back to goal, he pirouetted, advanced into the box and fired for goal only to be denied by the foot of Celtic keeper Ryan Mullen.
At the other end, Kinnear was enjoying a great game in goal and made another superb save to deny Aitchison, before Gers responded again – this time Dapo Mebude with a good run down the right before feeding the incoming Houston – but from just inside the area the skipper blasted over.
That was to be a precursor though for an equalising goal just as half time beckoned.
Superb dancing feet from Billy Gilmour on the edge of the area saw him set-up Stephen Kelly who had advanced into the box. He did well to get the ball out of his feet before squaring for Matthew Shiels in space out on the left.
Steadying himself, he shot for goal and expertly found the bottom corner before celebrating in style in front of the Rangers supporters with his teammates.
Into the second half, and it was Billy Kirkwood’s side who started the brighter of the two and put the Celtic goal under a sustained period of pressure, with their best efforts being a deflected Shiels 30-yard drive which Mullen did well to deal with before Rudden tried his luck from similar distance to again test the goalkeeper.
All their good work was undone however on the 69 minute mark as Celtic re-took the lead. Jack Aitchison got away from a clutch of Gers defenders on the edge of the box before finding the bottom corner, giving Kinnear no chance.
Celtic were reduced to 10-men for the latter stages as Kerr McInroy was dismissed for a second bookable offence after a trip of substitute Matti Zata, but Rangers couldn’t take advantage of being a man-up as their Glasgow rivals held on for victory, the Light Blues best chance coming from the head of Zatta as he met a Gilmour free-kick in the final minute of normal time.
RANGERS: Kinnear, Houston, Gray, Palmer (Butterworth, 72), Finlayson, Mayo, Mebude (Zata, 66’), Gilmour, Rudden, Kelly (Hewitt, 40), Shiels.
SUBS NOT USED: Patterson, Mack, McPake, Hogarth.
CELTIC: Mullen, Potter, Church, Deas, Weslh, Marku, Patrick-Campbell, McInroy, Aitchison, Henderson, Caffrey.
SUBS: Savoury, Rae, Robertson, Kennedy, McGrath, Kerr, McKay.
REFEREE: Xander Harrison