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Tuesday, 19 February 2013 21:04

Rangers Res 2-0 Queen's Park

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A DOUBLE whammy from Canada inspired Rangers to the SFL Reserve League title as they beat fellow contenders Queen’s Park in their final game at Ibrox.

Goals either side of half-time from Toronto-born Fraser Aird and his Northern American team-mate Luca Gasparotto gave the Light Blues the prize for the first time in 15 years.

And their success came on a night when they richly deserved to come out on top after a largely dominant display at Ibrox.

In front of an excellent crowd of 2,700 fans, the Light Blues were particularly good in the first half and should have led by more than their single goal at the midway stage.

They saw the game out though and will now go for a double in the weeks ahead as their Reserve League Cup campaign gets underway.

Due to a number of players being unavailable due to current first-team involvement, coach Tommy Wilson had no option but to field one of his least experienced sides of the season.

And although Robbie Crawford, Aird, Kal Naismith, Tom Walsh, Andy Mitchell and Seb Faure have played for the first team, they’ve had just 10 league starts between them.

Michael Keenan, playing up front for the visitors, has made double that tally of SFL3 first XIs on his own and the Spiders had three other regulars from their senior side featuring.

Nevertheless, it was the hosts who began brightest, with Walsh almost creating an early opportunity for Naismith after being released down the right by Charlie Telfer.

But while his cross in the mix was good, James Brough did just enough to glance the ball away from the forward at a crucial moment.

Telfer tried to make up for that with a chance of his own but keeper Blair Lochhead got down to save then held Andy Murdoch’s 18-yard volley on the rebound.

Back came Queens and they began to enjoy more pressure – but Aird should really have put Gers ahead on the break.

With a defensive slip, he was suddenly in on goal and darted forward from the halfway line but took a touch too many and allowed Lochhead to get his angles right and block.

Undeterred, the home team kept coming upfield and all that was lacking after a neat passing move involving Aird and Telfer was the finish from Crawford which flew over.

Telfer was again in the thick of the action at the end of a good first quarter for the home team but after breaking clear, Kieran McVey did enough to limit the impact of his shot.

The chances were racking up for Rangers and Walsh was next to attempt breaking the deadlock, getting on the end of a dinked Aird cross but poking just wide.

Naismith then saw his passed finish intercepted and cleared after terrific work by Murdoch to tee him up and the danger was Gers would come to rue so many missed opportunities.

Queen’s Park, after all, had won nine of their previous 12 matches and with many of the players who have taken them to second place in the Third Division in their ranks.

But Wilson’s men did take a lead two minutes before the break and when it came it was one they totally merited.

Aird found the net just as he had did at Hampden in December but this time it was a different sort of finish from his neat curling effort then.

Naismith fed the onrushing Scotland youth international and he stabbed the ball past Lochhead with a swift jab from his right foot to spark delight in the Main Stand.

Having gone in front, Rangers’ task after the break was to at least consolidate or even build on their advantage.

And they did the latter shortly before the hour mark with Gasparotto getting on the scoresheet.

The defender signed a new two-year deal with the club just last week and celebrated it in fine style with a good header from Aird’s corner.

It was nodded clear from under the crossbar immediately and at first it seemed play would continue.

But the stand side linesman flagged for the goal and suddenly Gers were in a really commanding position with just 32 minutes still to play.

Walsh could have added a third but shot over, Aird’s cut back somehow squirmed against the post before Lochhead flung himself on top of it and Naismith also drove over.

In response, Queens threw little at Scott Gallacher and in truth the keeper had one of his quietest games of the season.

With the referee’s final whistle, Ibrox erupted with delight as supporters paid tribute to their young team’s efforts.

And that was no less than they deserved after a campaign in which several players have shown they’ve got what it takes to step up to Ally McCoist’s first team.

RANGERS: Gallacher; Mitchell, Gasparotto, Faure, Wilson; Walsh (Halkett 83), Crawford, Telfer (Burrows 68), Murdoch, Aird; Naismith.

SUBS: Currie, Ntumba, Gibson.

QUEEN’S PARK: Lochhead, Gebbie, Brough, Gibson (Sinclair 83), Bradley, McVey (O’Hagan 56), Capuano, Mitchell (Coll 75), Shankland, Urquhart, Keenan.

SUBS: McKenna, Fraser.

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