RANGERS’ home season ended in disappointment as Aberdeen ran out winners this evening at Ibrox Stadium.
Goals either side of half time from Graeme Shinnie and Ryan Christie put the Dons in the driving seat before substitute Martyn Waghorn pulled one back for Pedro Caixinha’s side.
Matches between the pair always produce a special atmosphere, and while tonight’s game meant nothing in terms of league placings, the noise inside Ibrox as the teams took to the field was quite deafening.
But that noise was silenced somewhat after just nine minutes as Aberdeen took the lead. Josh Windass was tackled in midfield by Graeme Shinnie who raced forward, rode another challenge from Jon Toral, entered the area and kept his composure to slide the ball beyond Wes Foderingham.
It certainly was a nightmare start for the Gers, and their disappointing start was hampered further as Lee Hodson had to be withdrawn five minutes later with what appeared to be an ankle knock, with his place taken by Myles Beerman.
Seconds later from nothing, the Light Blues were almost level. An attempted clearance midway in the Aberdeen half by Mark Reynolds was charged down by Kenny Miller. He squared to Joe Garner on the edge of the area, but his shot slipped just wide of the target.
It was Garner too who had the Gers’ next opportunity, heading wide from a Barrie McKay corner before a smart ball from Miller picked out Windass in space in the area, but he miscontrolled meaning he failed either to shoot or square to Garner who had a certain tap-in.
Seven minutes before half time, Gers had to call on Wes Foderingham to deny Ash Taylor with a point-blank save after he found himself free at the back post from an Andy Considine knock-down as the Dons went in search of some breathing space.
At the other end, a quick Rangers break out from James Tavernier saw his cross reach Windass in the area. He did well to beat Shay Logan to the ball and set up Barrie McKay for a shot from the edge of the area which slipped just wide.
The half ended with another terrific Foderingham stop, this time expertly tipping over an excellent Niall McGinn free-kick from 25-yards.
The start of the second half saw Martyn Waghorn replace Joe Dodoo, but Rangers almost found themselves chasing a two goal deficit after some dallying in defence.
Foderingham again came to the rescue of Pedro Caixinha’s side, clearing the ball from the feet of McGinn before Kenny McLean set up Adam Rooney for a shot, with Foderingham there once more to smother the ball.
The warning wasn’t heeded by Gers though as time and again they failed to clear their lines, and eventually Aberdeen grabbed their second goal. McGinn threw in a cross for Adam Rooney at the back post who knocked it across for Ryan Christie who had the simple task of planting the ball in the back of the net.
Rangers responded, and after an excellent run from Myles Beerman down the left, he crossed for Martyn Waghorn who was denied only by a last-ditch tackle from Considine before the Dons cleared the danger.
That was only a precursor for what was to come though as the Light Blues hauled themselves back into the game on the hour mark. A wonderful run through midfield from Josh Windass saw him set up Martyn Waghorn just inside the area.
Waghorn took it first time and superbly lobbed the ball over Joe Lewis and into the back of the net, to raise Ibrox from its slumber and set up what looked to be a frantic last 30 minutes.
And that’s certainly what it proved to be with the football flowing from end to end and both sides having chances.
Gers had a shout for a penalty when Barrie McKay looked to be impeded by Ash Taylor from a terrific Miller cross, but referee John Beaton waved away the protests and then Windass came close to a leveler, but he could’t quite connect to David Bates’ header from a Barjonas cross.
With two minutes to go, substitute Jayden Stockley saw red for a second bookable offence following a late tackle on Aidan Wilson, but it wasn’t to provide the final boost the Gers needed to help them earn a late equaliser.
The Light Blues season now concludes with a trip to Perth on Sunday to take on St Johnstone.
RANGERS: Foderingham; Tavernier, Bates, A Wilson, Wallace; Toral, (Barjonas, 58) Miller, Windass; Dodoo (Waghorn, 45), Garner, McKay.
SUBS: Alnwick, Halliday, Holt, Atakayi, Beerman.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds, McLean, Christie, Rooney (Stockley, 67), McGinn, O’Connor.
SUBS: Alexander, Storey, Wright, F Ross, S Ross, Campbell.
REFEREE: John Beaton