RANGERS’ youngsters ended their first SPFL Development League fixture with a 1-0 defeat despite controlling the game.

St Mirren struck with a superb 65th minute free-kick from Jordan Stewart against the run of play after the Gers Under 20s created most of the chances.

There was some good news though as Matt Crooks enjoyed a good hour workout in his first game back since March, as he bids for full fitness from an ankle injury.

It was an opening period in which Rangers controlled the majority of possession. They had two early chances, the first coming from a Ryan Sinnamon free-kick. It was won centrally and about 25 yards out but the left-back could only lift it over the crossbar.

Then Ross Lyon darted into the left channel to send a driven effort at Reece Wilson on the angle but it was saved.

Josh Jeffries struck next with 18 minutes on the clock when he linked up with Liam Burt. Burt laid a cute ball off to him on the right flank and the forward cut inside to curl a side-footed shot into the hands of the keeper.

Burt used his instincts five minutes later to pounce on a loose ball in the 18 yard box and try and profit. He ran onto it from the left and attempted to poke the ball past defender and keeper as they bore down on him but to no avail.

In fact Rangers limited St Mirren to little play and very few chances in the opening period which was summed up when Lewis McLear fired over a free-kick in a very promising position for the youngsters just before the break.

The Gers youngsters squeezed in their best effort of the first period just before the whistle sounded. Ross McCrorie, who was playing in a more advanced role in midfield, summoned up a dangerous volley which sent the keeper scrambling but it was just inches wide.

Zak Rudden’s early chance meant Rangers started the second-half as they finished the first. Jeffries delivered a lovely ball onto the head of the striker from the right but former Alloa man Ben Gordon was alive to it. The defender snuffed out Rudden’s nod before the keeper had to act.

But against the run of play St Mirren took the lead and it was a clinical free-kick which would act to separate the sides. With 25 minutes left to play Stewart curled a superb set-piece up and around the Gers wall and into the top left hand corner.

Substitute Andrew Dallas went so close eight minutes after the visitors had pulled ahead. David Bates did superbly to work the ball onto the head of Dallas and he stepped off his marker to nod home but it was straight at the keeper.

Burt had his final chance of the game seconds before he was withdrawn. The St Mirren defence backed off to allow him to run at them and drag a low driven shot just wide of the upright.

Jamie Barjonas tried to make an impact late on as Rangers shook the St Mirren backline. He shaped one up from distance but fired his strike well over. Lyon could have snatched it at the death as he leapt onto a fizzing cross to try and finish beyond the keeper from close range but Willson was quick to touch it over the crossbar.

RANGERS: Robby McCrorie, Bradley, Sinnamon, Bates, Crooks (Dallas 62’), Ross McCrorie, Burt (Barjonas 77’), Murdoch (Ashmore 82’), Lyon, Jeffries, Rudden

Subs not used: Wright, Wilson, White, Gibson

Yellow: Crooks 60’

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