A MIX of Rangers’ Development Squad and first-team put four past Berwick Rangers as they controlled the game from start to finish in the Borders.
The home side got just one shot on target in Steven Notman’s testimonial, who was celebrating 11 years of service for the League Two side, as the Gers pressed them from the first whistle.
David Bates opened the scoring with a cheeky backheeled finish just before the half hour mark and Aaron Nemane added a second, finishing into an open goal just before the break.
Serge Atakayi raced away from the Berwick defence to finish one on one 18 minutes from time and then Jordan Thompson added a fourth late on as he blazed an unstoppable low strike home.
With Graeme Murty watching on Rangers started the game on the attack with seven first teamers involved and never really let up. With 13 minutes played Serge Atakayi played it short into the feet of Aaron Nemane as he burst into the box from the edge of the area. The Manchester City loanee lined up his shot on the angle as he opened his body but dragged his chance wide of the far upright.
Nemane was involved again a minute later as he latched onto a ball down the right from, captain for the night, Lee Hodson and sent a lofty cross into the penalty box. Eduardo Herrera was there waiting but placed his flicked header off target in the same direction Nemane’s shot had gone.
After few chances with the first-team Dalcio, on loan from Benfica, was starting for the Gers at Shielfield Park and went close on the 18 minute mark. The Portuguese picked the ball up 20 yards out after a Light Blues attack was snuffed out by the home side and he attempted to curl one under the cross bar but it rose just over.
Rangers had a bit of scare when the returning Ross Lyon passed across his own area into the path of Berwick’s Danny Watt. The young striker couldn’t make a good enough deflection though to share the Gers blushes. Lyon has been missing with a groin injury and had lined up in the unfamiliar position of left-back so could be forgiven for his early mistake.
Apart from that and a weak effort from testimonial man Notman Rangers had been in the driving seat and on 27 minutes they had the lead. Dalcio sweeped a strike goalwards and as it looked like it could go wide centre-back David Bates turned the skill on to flick a deft back heel beyond Robby McCrorie in goal.
Jordan Thompson tried an audacious effort three minutes later as he decided to go alone from distance to curl the ball into the top corner. McCrorie was untroubled though as he collected high to his right.
McCrorie, on loan at Berwick from Rangers’ Development Squad, then gifted Nemane a second for the visitors eight minutes before the turnaround. He misplaced his pass out from goal into the path of the 20-year-old and having come 12 or 13 yards off his line the keeper left Nemane an open goal to finish neatly into from 35 yards out.
Notman came off to thunderous applause both on and off the pitch 10 minutes into the second-half as Jonatan Johnasson offered him a hand shake on his departure from the pitch.
Both Herrera and Fabio Cardoso got an hour of game time in the Borders. Cardoso was playing his first game since breaking his nose in the League Cup semi-final a month ago. He had surgery on the break and just returned to contact training at the start of this week.
Liam Kelly was starting his first game of the season having enjoyed two league winning runs out on loan over the past couple of season. He hadn’t had a lot to do but Watt troubled him into a snap save down to his left on 63 minutes. Keiran Stewart sent a cross from the right into the channel of space in front of the Gers keeper and Watt was there to try and sneak a header between post and keeper. Kelly was alert to the danger and made a good save.
Atakayi had the Gers third of the evening with 18 minutes left to play when he broke through the Berwick defence to pull away from them at pace and take on McCrorie alone. He latched onto a lovely ball from sub Grant Nelson and darted away into the 18 yard box to look the stopper in the eye before cooly tapping into the bottom corner.
Andrew Dallas could have added a fourth when he burst forward eight minutes from time to square up to McCrorie. The Auchenhowie product stayed big though as he came off his line to square up to the forward and he saved well at his feet to dispose the 18-year-old.
Thompson did make sure Rangers left with four though with arguably the pick of the goals. The Northern Irish Under 21, on the left, drilled a shot low from the edge of the box inside the side netting leaving McCrorie no chance as it swirled at pace through a sea of men.
RANGERS XI: Kelly (Hogarth 78’), Hodson (Hewitt 78’), Cardoso (Mayo 58’), Bates, Lyon (S.Kelly 45’), Palmer (Zata 84’), Thompson, Dalcio (Nelson 66’), Atakayi (Ahmed 84’), Herrera (Dallas 58’), Nemane.
Goals: Bates 27’ Nemane 37’ Atakayi 72’ Thompson 86’
Photo Credit: @OfficialBRFC