RANGERS came from behind to defeat Falkirk in comprehensive fashion in this afternoon’s Youth Cup quarter-final at Ibrox.
After the Bairns took the lead through Kevin O’Hara early-on, Gers roared back through a stunning Jamie Barjonas double before half-time and then Zak Rudden from the penalty spot, Billy Gilmour with a composed finish and a Jack Thomson stunner saw Graeme Murty’s side through to the semi-finals.
Indeed, while an under-20 competition, not one of the Rangers starting XI fitted into the under-20 bracket with three being as young as under-17 and one – Billy Gilmour – being an under-16 player.
Despite a very bright opening period with plenty of possession in advanced areas, it was Falkirk who grabbed the advantage with their goal coming from a very fortuitous penalty kick.
Gers’ Jack Thomson was the player who was penalised for a handball inside the area, and while there is little doubt the ball struck his hand, his arm appeared not to be in an unnatural position. Regardless, up stepped Kevin O’Hara to take, and he elected to go straight down the middle with his kick.
Equal to the effort was Robby McCrorie who did so well to read it, but the ball rebounded only as far as O’Hara who stuck it away at the second attempt.
At that point, Rangers could have allowed their heads to go down – but they did no such thing and drew themselves level just four minutes later through a wonder-strike from Jamie Barjonas.
Aidan Wilson threw himself at a cross initially but saw his effort crash off the bar and the ball found its way out to Barjonas lurking 30-yards from goal out on the right-hand side. He took on the shot first time and found the top left corner leaving keeper Lewis McMinn rooted to the spot.
It was to get even better for Gers and Barjonas on the 30-minute mark however as he netted again to give his side the lead. This time good work from Josh Jeffries on the right flank saw him cut a ball into the middle which the Falkirk defence cleared, but only as far as the Gers midfield man who was lurking on the edge of the box.
From there, he curled the ball beautifully into the bottom-left corner, again leaving McMinn without a hope.
Into the second half, and Rangers began the half by playing some superb football, creating a number of opportunities with winger Liam Burt at the heart of most that was good about their play.
Falkirk were struggling to handle him, and he won a penalty for the Light Blues on the 58 minute mark. Up stepped Zak Rudden and he confidently blasted the ball into the right of the net with McMinn diving left.
Burt was continuing to cause all sorts of problems for the Bairns, and he set up the fourth goal for the Gers a short time later with a wonderful piece of vision.
From just shy of halfway, he spotted Billy Gilmour making a run from midfield into space in the advanced area. 15 year-old Gilmour showed terrific composure after taking a great first touch and buried the ball beyond the oncoming McMinn.
Rangers all of a sudden looked as if they could score at will, and goal number five came from the boot of Jack Thomson – and yet again, it was a quite stunning strike.
In what was almost a carbon-copy of Jamie Barjonas first goal, from 30-yards he let rip and found the top corner as Graeme Murty’s men added some deserved gloss to the already impressive scoreline.
RANGERS: Robby McCrorie, Houston, Beerman, Thomson, McCrorie, Wilson (Bradley, 68), Jeffries (Lyon, 79), Barjonas, Rudden, Gilmour, Burt (Atakayi, 79).
SUBS: Wright, Ashmore, Gibson, Abaradan.