Rangers -v- Hibernian, Saturday 26th March 2011
Ibrox Stadium, Kick-Off 2pm.
Billy Kirkwood’s under 19’s take on Hibernian at Ibrox on Saturday in the Scottish Youth Cup Semi Final. The Ibrox youngsters are aiming to make it to their fifth consecutive final, having won the trophy in 2007 and 2008 with victories of Celtic in both finals.
Where as Rangers will go into this game as favourites it will not be an easy match as this season’s league meetings have been close. The first game at Murray Park in October ended in a 1-1 draw, in a game Rangers dominated they fell behind to a freak free-kick from Scott Smith and the now departed Max Wright equalised in the second half.
In the recent meeting at Hibs Training Centre the young Gers ran out 4-1 winners, although the game was closer than the scoreline suggests. Two of Kal Naismith’s goals in his hat-trick coming in the final ten minutes. Rangers opener that day came from Christiano Kisuka with Callum Burns levelling for the Easter Road side.
So who are you likley to see if you go along on Saturday ? In recent weeks Gary Inglis has been between the sticks, Gary started the season as third choice but with injuries to Wayne Drummond and Alan Smith, Gary grabbed his chance. With first choice Wayne Drummond fit again there is a decision to be made there.
The likely back four will be Kyle McAusland, Chris Hegarty, Darren Cole & Robbie McIntyre. The most familiar to the supporters is of course Darren Cole, who made his first team debut in Turkey. A regular at centre-back for the youths he has formed a good partnership with Northern Irish youth international Chris Hegarty. Chris joined in the summer from Millwall, not the biggest central defender I have been impressed with his distribution from the back.
Kyle came to the club as a striker from Ayr United and has grown into the full-back role this season. Left-back Robbie has made great progress, last season he was playing boys club football with Tynecastle Boys Club. Not only has he pushed into the youth team, he has also established himself in the Scotland under 17’s.
Kamil Wiktorski, Rhys McCabe, Dylan McGeough and Gordon Dick are probably going to make up the midfield. One drawback is that they all would prefer to play central. Polish youth international Kamil is likely to be the more defensive of the four and will be joined by one of the others in the middle, with the other two being expected to provide width.
There has been much speculation over Dylan McGeough, who is arguably the best player at this level in the country. At the moment he is still a Rangers player and may see that this would be the best place to develop his career. Rhys has just signed a new two year contract and has been a regular for a few years now, his incredible “Tim Cahill” type spring makes him a threat in the air. Gordon has been in and out the side, but seems to have established himself in recent weeks in the side and provides drive from midfield.
Up front would almost certainly be Kal Naismith and Kane Hemmings, but Kane appeared to pull a hamstring at the weekend and must be a doubt. Both have been performing at the top of their game in recent weeks. Kane has power, pace and goals, while Kal is either sublime or frustrating. A real talent but sometimes he has his own ideas on how to play. If Kane doesn’t make it his likely replacement would be Christiano Kisuka, it depends which Christiano turns up, unplayable against Celtic or subbed at half-time against Aberdeen.
Others that could feature are Northern Irish midfielder Andy Mitchell and fellow midfielder Robbie Crawford. Adam Hunter, Ewan McNeil and Steven Hetherington who are comfortbale in either defence or midfield and Anthony Marenghi who can play up front or in midfield.
Players to look out for in the visitors side include defender and captain Scott Smith who has been a regular at youth international level. Striker Ross Caldwell is another who has been called into the Scotland under 19 setup.At the younger level Danny Handling has been recognised at under 17’s.
In recent seasons Hibs have had an informal tie with the famous North East England side Wallsend Boys Club, and Lewis Horner is the latest recruit from that source. Central defender Jordan Forster was previously with Celtic.
In the recent game full-back Callum Burns and midfielders Harry Monaghan and Dean Horrobine also impressed.