A RANGERS ‘European’ XI faced a Kilmarnock ‘Heroes’ XI at Rugby Park this afternoon in a testimonial match for Kris Boyd, with the home side running out winners
Having hit over 100 goals for both clubs across numerous spells, a fantastic crowd of 4302 rocked up in the Ayrshire sunshine, thus raising a fantastic amount of money for the excellent work being done by the Kris Boyd Charity.
A host of Gers stars were in attendance, including Sasa Papac and Pedro Mendes who had jetted-in especially for the match, with the numbers in the visiting squad swelled by a number of the Light Blues Academy players.
While the fitness might not quite be there for some of the lads anymore, the ability has certainly never left them, and that was highlighted after just six minutes with a goal for Rangers of the very highest quality.
From almost the halfway line, Alex Rae sent a stunning ball towards Peter Lovenkrands, with the Dane having made a good run into the area.
The ball from Rae was just perfect and Lovenkrands glided a first-time lob over Killie first-teamer Dan Bachmann to open the scoring.
This was Kris Boyd’s day, however, and it took him just 14 minutes to level the scoring. Skilful Finn Alexei Eremenko burst his way into the area and took a rather dramatic tumble under a Sasa Papac tackle for a penalty kick, which would probably not have been given had this been a competitive match.
Up-stepped Boyd to lash the ball beyond the dive of Graeme Smith in goal for Gers to level this already entertaining match, and it was to be Boyd who put the home side in front for the first time on the half-hour mark.
From a corner-kick, Manuel Pascali helped the ball into the path of Boyd for a pretty simple finish.
Featuring in the Rangers line-up was Charlie Adam, and having become famed for it through the years, when presented the chance to shoot from the halfway line, he was certainly going to take it, though his effort just before half-time was well-read by Bachmann.
Another very dubious-looking penalty kick was awarded just after the interval by referee John Beaton as Greg Kiltie fell inside the area, and up-stepped Boyd to complete his hat-trick, although, if truth be told, he really should have had his treble long before that point given the chances he missed.
That opened the floodgates a little, and with some of the older players perhaps beginning to tire, it presented an opportunity for manager for the day Ally McCoist to introduce a few of the younger members of the squad.
One of them, Andy Dallas, just can’t stop scoring at the moment, and with his first touch of the game on the end of a wonderful through-ball from Pedro Mendes, he brought the score back to 3-2.
Within a minute, however, Killie had that two-goal cushion back with Boyd turning provider for Greg Stewart to net at the back post.
Killie’s fifth came from one of their heroes of the past, Paul DiGiacomo with a lung-bursting run from deep to take him by Marvin Andrews before chipping the ball neatly over young ‘keeper Aidan McAdams before Jack Byrne made it six for the home side, blasting home a loose Gers clearance from the edge of the box.
Beaton awarded a third penalty of the match, this time in favour of Rangers with six minutes left as Josh McPake was fouled after jinking his way into the area. Off the bench to take it came Nacho Novo, which was fantastic to see following his recovery from a heart attack he suffered back in January.
His kick was typically perfect to bring the score back to 6-3 before he came back off the park to superb applause from everyone inside Rugby Park.
That was to be the final action of the match, and Rangers manager for the day Ally McCoist was delighted to see Boyd recognised with a testimonial and paid tribute to him by saying: “Kris, in my opinion, is definitely the best finisher of his generation. He’s a great goalscorer, and it is magic for us to have the opportunity to come down here and pay tribute to him, support him and thank him, though I still think he has a few goals left in him!
“It’s great too to come down and see the likes of Sasa Papac and Pedro Mendes – it’s brilliant and it says a lot for Boydy too that these boys have come back.
“I’m not sure Walter [Smith] would have been too impressed with my team-talk in there – it was slightly left-field shall we say but it certainly got the response that we were looking for!
“It’s not the most serious of dressing rooms today without giving too much away!”
Although he was listed on the teamsheet, McCoist ruled himself out
“Five-a-sides I think is my limit. My last 11-a-side game was at Ibrox Park, and without going into too much detail, I think that’s how I should leave it!”
RANGERS EURO XI: Graeme Smith; Marvin Andrews, Maurice Ross, Pedro Mendes, Sasa Papac, Charlie Adam, Charlie Miller, Alex Rae, Kenny Miller, Michael Mols, Peter Lovenkrands, Andrew Dallas*, Aidan McAdams*, Rhys Breen*, Josh McPake*, Kai Kennedy*, Nacho Novo.