A Fraser Aird header in the first half gave the Light Blues their 25th win of the season but the result was almost irrelevant as 50,048 – a world record for a fourth tier league fixture – created a party atmosphere on the day the Third Division trophy will be held aloft.

The four stands were decked in red, white and blue before kick-off with supporters belting out ‘Simply The Best’ and ‘Penny Arcade’ as the Champions appeared from the Main Stand tunnel.

And like the East Stirlingshire players at Ochilview last weekend the Berwick squad created a guard of honour as proud skipper Lee McCulloch led his team out with his son as a mascot.

Ibrox was bouncing as both sets of players waited for John McKendrick’s first whistle with Lewis Macleod desperate for the action to begin after his recent injury lay off while Luca Gasparotto made his first start at senior level.

Rangers enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages of the game with Ian Black composed in the middle of the park and David Templeton clearly in the mood on the left wing.

Goalscoring opportunities were few and far between though and it was not until the 16th minute that the Light Blues had an opportunity to test keeper Mark McCallum after Templeton had been fouled 20 yards from goal.

Having scored from a similar distance against the Shire, Temps stepped up again but his effort was too high and finished up in the Broomloan Stand.

Two minutes later and another free-kick was awarded at the other end of the pitch and Kevin McDonald’s powerful low drive was straight at Neil Alexander who made his first save of the afternoon. 

After a sunny morning the clouds had now gathered over Ibrox and a cold wind was blowing through the stadium but the atmosphere was red hot with the Union Bears and Blue Order in great form as usual.

All that was missing was a goal and on 31 minutes it arrived. Aird made a great run into the box and his glancing header from Kyle Hutton’s teasing delivery flew past McCallum who was helpless.

It was Aird’s third goal of the season and his first in front of the Ibrox faithful.

On 36 minutes Ally McCoist was forced to change his team with Darren Cole going on for Andy Little. It was Cole’s first outing after ankle surgery and his fourth appearance of the season.

The switch meant Lee McCulloch moved into attack with Cole slotting in at right back and Faure joining Gasparotto in the heart of defence.

Rangers were unable to add to their advantage before the half-time interval but there was more for fans to cheer about at the break with the club’s under-17s parading the Glasgow Cup before Richard Gough and Lorenzo Amoruso, back for Monday’s Legends game against Manchester United, conducted the Rising Stars draw.

Into the second half and on 52 minutes Berwick came close to levelling the score, right back Deren Jacobs’ excellent cross found Scott Dalziel and his header was well saved by Alexander who dived to his right to turn the ball around the post.

Both Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall were now in the technical players urging their players up the park and they responded.

A 30-yard effort from man of the match Andy Mitchell whizzed past the post and on 64 minutes before a shot from Macleod trickled past the post after the youngster had linked up well with Templeton.

Rangers continued to push forward but despite introducing Kane Hemmings and Robbie Crawford they were unable beat McCallum for a second time.

On 76 minutes Hemmings came closest when he fired a shot over the bar from 12 yards but the scoreline at the final stayed at 1-0 with Aird’s goal proving decisive.

All that is left if for captain Lee McCulloch to lift the Third Division trophy! Post match reaction and photos to follow…

Rangers: Alexander; Faure, Gasparotto, McCulloch, Mitchell; Templeton, Black, Hutton, Macleod (Crawford 74), Aird (Hemmings 65); Little (Cole 36)
Subs: Kelly, Naismith
Bookings: McCulloch

Berwick Rangers: McCallum; Jacobs, Hoskins, Townsley, McLean, Gielty, Notman (Brydon 87), Janczyk, McLaren (Easton 63), Dalziel (Lavery 67), McDonald
Subs: McCaldon, Morris
Bookings: Townsley, Notman

Referee: John McKendrick

 

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