MARK WARBURTON branded last night’s 2-1 victory over Charleston Battery as ‘a good test’ as his side got their 2016/17 campaign off to the ideal start.
Second half goals from debutant Josh Windass and Harry Forrester were enough for the Light Blues to delight the hundreds of supporters who had travelled from all over the United States and beyond for the match.
Speaking afterwards, gaffer Warburton told RangersTV.tv: “Whenever you come to the States, these guys are right in the middle of their season. They’re fit, strong and organised, and generally in a good place.
“So it was a good test for us on a good surface, and we have really enjoyed the trip. The hospitality shown to us by the Battery has been magnificent, and we have worked hard all week, and that performance tonight was a culmination of all of that to see where we were at fitness wise against a very strong, athletic and quality opposition.
“We looked in good shape though. It’s been a really hard eight or nine days but the boys have worked exceptionally well over that time in really gruelling conditions. We looked strong, quick and we moved the ball well, and for the first-run out, I am really pleased.
“Josh has come in and settled really well with the group, and all credit to him and to the group for embracing each other in the way they have. I thought he made an impression – he can change a game, showed a good change of pace and delivered in the final third.
“Harry, we know all about his ability and he had the injury at the end of last season, so he has a bit more work to catch up on, but again, really pleasing to get him half an hour and he made an impression.”
Kick-off in South Carolina was delayed by more than an hour as a severe thunderstorm passed overhead, but despite the obvious inconvenience, Warburton reckons the drop in temperature caused by the weather event proved to be a good thing for his players.
He continued: “We arrived here and it was 96 degrees, but to have it at 80 or so for kick-off was good for us, and the pitch was slick and wet as well, which also helped as we could move the ball.
“I was delighted for the new guys – Matt, Josh and Clint – getting on, and the young boys did well too, so all over the park there were good performances, and it was a look at where we were physically after the first eight or nine days, and right now, it’s so far so good.
“The guys have come in after a three and a half week summer break, and they have done their testing and have worked so hard every single day in two tough sessions in tough temperatures.”
As often happens in pre-season matches, numerous changes were made throughout the game, with Rangers ending with an especially youthful side on the park.
Speaking about his youngsters, Warburton explained: “The better quality of player we bring in, the harder it is going to be to make that transition from youth player to first-team player. They are aware of that, but Tom [Walsh] came in and did great in well, his two spells, and it’s never easy doing that.
“Jordan [Thompson] came in and did very, very well, Ross [McCrorie] came in and filled Tav’s boots well and young Ryan [Hardie] did well up front too.”
As ever, Rangers were backed from start to finish by an excellent support, and Warburton was quick to thank the loyal legions for their backing in the Southern heat.
He concluded: “They were here in great numbers, especially with the weather as that storm was horrendous. The meet and greet earlier in the week was great, and some of the distances they have travelled is incredible, and the players recognise and appreciate it, and it is never taken for granted.”
RANGERSTV IN AMERICA
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Exclusives
- Interview: Andy Halliday
- Interview: James Tavernier
- Interview: Martyn Waghorn
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 7
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 6
- Feature: Goalkeeper Special
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 5
- Interview: Ross McCrorie
- Interview: Jordan Thompson
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 4
- Press Conference: Mark Warburton
- Interview: Mike Anhaeuser
- Exclusive: Mark Warburton
- Interview: Michael OHalloran
- Interview: Craig Flannigan
- Interview: Harry Forrester
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 3
- Interview: Matt Crooks
- Interview: Josh Windass
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 2
- Training: Pre-Season Tour Day 1