RANGERS walked away 3-1 winners in their first 90 minute game of pre-season as they beat Welsh Champions The New Saints at the Hummel Training Centre.
Goals from Serge Atakayi, Jamie Murphy and Ross McCrorie secured the victory. Steven Gerrard played two completely different outfield teams in either half as the Gers gear up for the Europa League.
First-half XI: Alnwick, Hodson, Bradley, Katic, John, Halliday, Docherty, Jack, Middleton, Rudden, Atakayi.
TNS started the game with a rush forward and profited from it after just a minute when Dean Ebbe planted a header beyond Jak Alnwick who had been left stranded with the goal gapping. That was a rare wobble from the Gers in this game though.
On four minutes Serge Atakayi tapped Rangers back level after some good work down the right from fellow Development Squad man Glenn Middleton. The winger cut a ball off the by-line back across the area and when it bypassed everyone camped in the middle, including Zak Rudden, Atakayi popped up. The Finnish Under 21 squeezed the ball, with some help off the keeper, off the inside of the post to finish the move off.
Nikola Katic was starting alongside youngster Kyle Bradley and looked dangerous in the air in the first period. When Atakayi whipped a free-kick in from the left the Croatian rose way above the rest of the field to launch a header fractions wide of the base of the upright.
Rangers won a penalty soon after, Declan John was hauled down as he burst into the box after cutting in down the left. Andy Halliday had the resulting spot-kick saved by Paul Harrison and Rudden couldn’t turn the rebound in as he fired over the bar from a few yards out.
Ryan Jack had the last good chance of the first-half when he produced a lovely strike from the edge of the area and the keeper was forced into a save as it rose on route. At half-time the game was all square at 1-1.
Second-half XI: Alnwick (McCrorie 75’), Tavernier, Goldson, Wilson, Flanagan, McCrorie, Arfield, Murphy, Candeias, Morelos, Windass.
The second-half saw a bright, high tempo display from Rangers. It started with Jamie Murphy putting a cleared corner just over the bar within minutes of the whistle.
Connor Goldson was in the centre of defence alongside Aidan Wilson and picked out his teammates at will in a commanding display. He started with a lovely chipped ball over the top and straight into Alfredo Morelos inside the area. The Colombian put too much on his attempt to lift the ball over Harrison in goal and ultimately it cleared the bar.
Morelos didn’t wait long to set-up Murphy for Rangers second though; minutes later he produced a cute lay-off into the winger, who was storming in on goal. The 28-year-old rattled the ball off the post and in to round off a move which started with Josh Windass threading Morelos in from the right channel.
Murphy was having an inspired half and went close again when he worked his way across the top of the box before dragging a low shot just past the far post.
Ross McCrorie was the Light Blues third goal scorer, thanks to a deflection. The 20-year-old tried his luck from 25 yards and rifled the ball home as the shot skewed off a TNS defender to evade their keeper.
Murphy and Morelos both went close again in the same piece of play. First the former Brighton man fired the ball off the underside of the bar, after it was flashed in from the right by James Tavernier. Morelos then failed to head the rebound in as the TNS stopper scrambled to save high to his left.
Rangers could have rounded off the half with another goal in a great move which saw Candeias pick out Murphy on the edge of the box, the forward dummy for Scott Arfield to then fire narrowly over.