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Sunday, 07 July 2013 18:00

Brora 0-2 Rangers

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RANGERS made a winning start to their pre-season campaign as substitute Lewis Macleod’s double gave them a comfortable 2-0 win over Highland League outfit Brora.

The Ibrox team, playing in their new third kit, were the better side for much of the contest at Dudgeon Park.

And although it took them until after the interval to edge ahead, manager Ally McCoist will have been content enough with the way his men went about their business overall.

Having had a tough training session yesterday, it took time for the Third Division champions to make their dominance count.

Changing most of the team halfway through the contest did the trick though and the increased tempo from the replacements was enough to give the tourists victory.

Brora had been 2-0 winners themselves in midweek against a strong Ross County side and that meant there was a touch of caution going into this friendly.

But their forays upfield were few and far between as McCoist’s men won the game with some slick passing and a good attitude.

Andy Mitchell missed the game after jarring his ankle in training yesterday while Sebastien Faure was also ruled out because of illness.

But the other 21 players who had made the journey north from Glasgow were all fit and boss McCoist took the opportunity to give each of them some game time.

Cammy Bell and Richard Foster were amongst the starters in a side which was largely made up of players who were regulars in the team last season.

French-Tunisian trialist Belil Mohsni was also listed in the first XI as he got his chance to impress having left English side Southend United.

On reflection, he went about his task well and was probably the standout performer in a first half during which the sides went in level at the break with the deadlock yet to be broken.

Kyle Hutton, Robbie Crawford and Foster also looked busy and McCoist will have taken note of their contributions.

Mohsni certainly wasn’t afraid to take control and did well organising the back line next to Emilson Cribari.

And as well as showing some classy touches, he got forward well too and was a genuine threat at set pieces.

Rangers dictated play for much of the first 45 minutes and created the best chances to score without netting.

Fraser Aird wasted a great chance just four minutes in when he hammered a volley high and wide.

Hutton was more unfortunate than anything when he got on the end of a long ball from Foster and brought out a good stop from home keeper Joe Malin.

Mohsni’s downward header dropped just wide and a similar Ian Black attempt was held before Lee Wallace should have had a penalty when he was bodychecked by Scott Houston.

It wasn’t given though and Brora nearly made the most of that let-off when Zander Sutherland hit the target but Cammy Bell got down well to smother.

Mohsni ended a good personal showing by forcing a great fingertip stop from Malin and Lee McCulloch’s follow up was put behind for a corner which came to nothing.

The second period saw manager McCoist make 10 changes, with only Robbie Crawford remaining on the park.

And eight minutes after the restart they took a deserved lead with a well-worked goal from fit-again Macleod.

Kyle McAusland, one of nine players who made first or second debuts for the club in sunny Sutherland, did really well to win possession in midfield.

He fed to Nicky Clark who found Jon Daly and when he cut back inside, Scotland under-19 midfielder Macleod was there to stroke a composed finish home from 12 yards.

Just before the hour mark the lead was doubled – and as the same four players combined once again to get the goal, it was Macleod once more who provided the finish.

Curiously, it was also McAusland starting the move off and he showed good strength to push down the right and cross for Daly to knock down.

Clark made enough of an impact to force the ball back from there to Macleod and he shot low in off the post to make it 2-0.

McAusland took a lot from his loan spell at Ayr last season and has returned to Ibrox looking far more imposing than before.

Playing in a deep-lying midfield role, he influenced the game more than most and released Clark with an intelligent ball but the forward’s attempt was kept out.

Just when it seemed things were going well, the visitors lost a player to injury as Ross Perry hurt his ankle going into a tackle and had to leave the game midway through the half.

With all of their substitutes already on the park, the referee allowed Mohsni to return to the fray.

Just as he had before, he played with confidence as the back line was rarely troubled by the tiring hosts.

At the other end of the park, Clark almost netted when he got on the end of a pinpoint Stevie Smith crossed and agonisingly saw it pawed away just when it seemed it was going in.

There was another opportunity for him too and he was denied as before but he did enough to suggest he’ll be a good acquisition in the months ahead.

With the final whistle came contentment for McCoist that the warm-up campaign had begun with on-field success.

And while his players have still to hit top gear, they did enough to suggest there’s a lot to build on between now and the big kick-off against Albion Rovers on July 28.

RANGERS: Bell (Gallacher 46); Foster (Cole 46), Cribari (Perry 46), Mohsni (Gasparotto 46), Wallace (Smith 46); Crawford, Hutton (McAusland 46), Black (Law 46), Aird (Macleod 46); Little (Daly 46), McCulloch (Clark 46).

Copyright 2014. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to www.rangers.co.uk

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