Archive for February, 2013

17’s Held By Bairns

February 24, 2013

Rangers 1 Falkirk 1

Falkirk made it three games unbeaten at U17’s this season against Rangers at Murray Park this morning. Having won the previous two encounters 2-1 and 3-1 today’s game finished all square.

There was almost twenty minutes gone when Ryan Hardie chased a long ball and rounded keeper Robbie Brown but John Higgins got back to block the striker’s shot. Two minutes later at the other end a cross from the left found its way to Botti Bia Bi at the back post and Liam Kelly turned his shot wide of his near post.

A couple of minutes after the half-hour mark Rangers took the lead from a superb individual goal. Picking the ball up on the halfway line Scott Roberts drove towards the Falkirk box leaving two defenders in his wake and from just outside the left side of the penalty area he curled a shot wide of Robbie Brown into the far corner of the net.

Half-Time:- Rangers 1 Falkirk o

A few minutes in to the second-half and slack play in midfield gave Falkirk a chance through the middle, Peter McGill attempted to chip Liam Kelly but his effort cleared the bar. With quarter of an hour gone Sam Liddington sent Lewis Morgan down the left, Ryan Hardie got on the end of his cross but his header was deflected over.

Five minutes later Falkirk were level, Liam Kelly waited for a through ball to enter his box and as he converged with Jamie Mills and Falkirk’s Botti Bia Bi the ball broke for the striker who rolled it into the net. It was the visitors who came closest to a winner with a couple of chances in the dying minutes. When a free-kick from the right was cleared to the edge of the box Robbie McNabb’s powerful strike was held low to his right by Liam Kelly. A final chance was created when Paul Simpson broke and played in Botti Bia Bi on the right side of the box but he shot over.

Full -Time:- Rangers 1 Falkirk 1

Rangers:- Liam Kelly; Ben Reilly, Michael Mossie (Ryan Sinnamon), Greg Pascazio, Sam Liddington (Jamie Mills); Dylan Stevenson, Scott Roberts (Dylan Dykes), Lewis Morgan (David Brownlie) Adam Wilson (Scott Lochrie), Andy McKinnon (Junior Ogen); Ryan Hardie.

Falkirk:- Robbie Brown (Lewis McMinn); Matthew McInally (Jordan McGregor), John Higgins, Chris McLaughlin’ Ryan Blair; Botti Bia Bi, Robbie McNabb, Michael Martin, Peter McGill (Scott Burns), Connor Hogg (Paul Simpson); Scott Shepherd (Stewart Hay)

Footnote:- At the same time Rangers U14’s put last week’s disappointment behind them with a 4-0 win over Hibs, a reversal in the scoreline from the last meeting between the sides. The goals coming from Sam Jamieson, Liam Burt (2) and Jay Willis.

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17’s Win “Away” At Murray Park

February 21, 2013

Partick Thistle 0 Rangers 4

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Rangers U17’s were in the unusual situation tonight playing “away” at Murray Park. Partick Thistle opted to switch their home game to Rangers training ground for tonight’s Glasgow Cup game, Rangers won their home tie at Murray Park 2-1 earlier in the season.

It was the “home” side who threatened first after five minutes when a great turn and shot from their centre forward brought a fine save from Liam Kelly low at his right hand post. Three minutes later Rangers missed a great chance at the other end, Scott Roberts corner from the right fell kindly for David Brownlie on the six yard line but his shot was just too high.

Rangers came closer still on twelve minutes Scott Roberts broke forward and exchanged passes with Junior Ogen before sending a shot crashing off the bar from the edge of the box with Junior Ogen knocking the rebound wide of the keeper’s left hand post. Good play from Danny Stoney setup up Gloady Ntumba on the right side of the box with the Thistle keeper parrying his shot from a narrow angle.

Just after the midpoint of the half Rangers took the lead, Gloady Ntumba was heading towards the box, when he was challenged the ball broke to Dylan Dykes who fired past the keeper from twenty-five yards. Ten minutes later Dylan Dykes fed Gloady Ntumba on the right side of the box with the keeper saving low to his right.

The keeper them produced a better save a minute later, diving to his right to turn Ryan Sinnamon’s effort wide after he broke forward from full-back. Scott Roberts took the resultant corner and Greg Pascazio’s header was netbound until it was cleared from the line. Four minutes before the break Junior Ogen played the ball to Dylan Dykes inside the box and his flick left Gloady Ntumba in the clear but he shot wide of the left hand post.

Half-Time:- Partick Thistle 0 Rangers 1

Rangers increased their lead six minutes into the second half, Junior Ogen robbing the Thistle defender as he tried to shepherd the ball over the byline on the right, he made a better angle for the shot that beat the keeper. The next chance came when Danny Stoney passed from the right inside to Dylan Dykes who moved the ball onto Gloady Ntumba with the keeper saving bravely at the striker’s feet.

As the midway point of the half approached a Danny Stoney solo effort netted Rangers third, drifting past two defenders he beat the keeper with a fine shot from the edge of the box. With just over quarter of an hour on the clock the Thistle keeper dived to his right to deny Ryan Sinnamon’s superb curling shot turning it wide of the post. The goal was only delayed, with the Thistle defence struggling to clear the corner Ryan Hardie volleyed home from around eight yards.

Full-Time:- Partick Thistle 0 Rangers 4

Rangers:- Liam Kelly; Ryan Sinnamon, David Brownlie, Greg Pascazio, Jamie Mills; Scott Roberts, Dylan Dykes, Junior Ogen (Ryan Hardie 66mins), Tom Walsh (Michael Mossie 56mins), Danny Stoney (Adam Wilson 71mins); Gloady Ntumba.

Not Used:- Robbie McCrorie (Gk), Lewis Morgan, Andy McKinnon

Youth Update

February 17, 2013

This weekend’s youth games began on Friday night with the U15’s 2-1 win against Queen’s Park at Lesser Hampden. I didn’t make it to that game, but the same venue was my choice for Sunday morning’s match where Queen’s Park again hosted Rangers.

Queen’s Park 0 Rangers 1

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The opening exchanges produced little in the way of chances until Rangers took the lead on seventeen minutes. Scott Roberts closed down and dispossessed Danny Smith on the right side of the penalty area and rolled the ball across goal for Gloady Ntumba to shoot past the defender on the line. Just after the half-hour Jamie Mills won the ball deep inside the Queen’s Park half on the left hand side before passing to Danny Stoney he in turn passed inside to Tom Walsh and his effort was just wide of the keeper’s right hand post.

Half-Time:- Queen’s Park 0 Rangers 1

The second half followed a similar theme and there was over an hour gone when the home side created a clear chance. Ross Gemmell made progress down the left and his cross found its way to David Ramsay at the back post but he shot over. As the game neared the final ten minutes Rangers created a similar chance at the other end. Scott Robert was the creator on the leftand from his cross Lewis Morgan firedover.

In the final minute Liam Kelly kept Rangers lead intact, diving to his right to save a Macauley Wilson free-kick from the left side of the penalty area.

Full-Time:- Queen’s Park 0 Rangers 1

Queen’s Park:- Danny McLean; Danny Smith, Dale Jones, Kyle Chalmers, Ross Gemmell (Adam Love 80mins); David Ramsay, Jamie Gallagher (Paul Brown 70mins), James Marr, Macauley Wilson, Gregor Wylie; Jordan Davidson (Tom Collins 65mins)

Not Used:- Marc Wilson, Nathan Brown

Rangers:- Liam Kelly; Ryan Sinnamon, David Brownlie, Greg Pascazio, Jamie Mills; Scott Roberts, Tom Walsh (Michael Mossie 60mins), Junior Ogen (Adam Wilson 68mins), Dylan Dykes, Danny Stoney (Lewis Morgan HT); Gloady Ntumba (Ryan Hardie 60mins).

The alternative game would have been the U13’s game against St.Mirren at Ralston which kicked off around the same time with Rangers winning 6-2. I just got to Ralston as the under 14’s game between the sides kicked-off.

St.Mirren 5 Rangers 1

The home side took the lead when their striker powered through the Rangers defence and continued into the box to shoot past Kieran Wright. Rangers then lost possession from their own throw in near their own penalty area on the right, the ball was played into the box and the striker shot past Kieran Wright.

Rangers tried to reply and Kieran Laing made progress on the left before passing to Blair Docherty who moved the ball onto Jordan Houston and his shot from the edge of the box was just wide of the keeper’s right hand post. With Aidan Wilson struggling with an injury     the Rangers defence was under pressure and when Jordan Houston was out muscled competing for a bouncing ball the St.Mirren player went through on Kieran Wright to net a third. Rangers managed to pull a goal back before the end of the first period, Grant Nelson’s corner from the left found its way to Sam Jamieson who found the net through a crowd of players.

Any hopes that would be a catalyst for a comeback were dashed in the opening minute of the second period. The attack came down the left and when the ball came into the box it was prodded past Kieran Wright into the bottom corner. Within in sixty seconds the striker was played through the inside left channel, this time his shot was wide of Kieran Wright’s right hand post.

Rangers came close to reducing the deficit when Liam Burt’s free-kick from the right found Jamie Barjonas at the back post but his effort was just wide. They were to rue that miss when in St.Mirren’s next attack down the left as they entered the box Euan McMillan brought the attacker down for a penalty that was duly converted.

A ball over the top created another chance for the home side with Kieran Wright producing a fine save. The Rangers keeper was again called into action this time rushing from his line to block when a lob sent the Saints player clear.

For the first part of the last period Rangers dominated possession and had a series if free kick s without troubling the keeper. St Mirren were back creating chances after the turn round, an attack through the inside right channel looked to have produced another goal when the ball was prodded past the advancing Kieran Wright until Dean Picken got back to clear. The final chance saw another goal line clearance, this time from Euan McMillan after a corner from the right was headed goalwards.

Full-Time:- St.Mirren 5 Rangers 1

Rangers Squad:- Kieran Wright (Gk), Jordan Houston, Kieran Laing, Dean Picken, Aidan Wilson, Blair Docherty, Liam Burt, Lewis Ferguson, Sam Jamieson, Jamie Barjonas, Grant Nelson, Euan McMillan, Jay Willis, Kieran Pirrie

Youth Update

February 10, 2013

 A wintry Murray Park was the venue for this weeks’ youth football fix, with the U14’s taking on Motherwell in the morning, and the 15’s and 17’s playing Inverness Caley Thistle in the afternoon.

Rangers 8 Motherwell 1

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When Rangers lost possession at the edge of their own box the Motherwell striker broke through to shoot past Darren Montgomery and give the visitors the lead. Rangers were soon back on level terms when Aidan Wilson powered a free-kick from twenty-five yards high into the net.

When Grant Nelson sent a free-kick from the left the ball was cleared to the edge of the box to Sam Jamieson and his drive was just too straight and the keeper saved. On the twenty-minute mark Aidan Wilson almost found the net with another powerful free-kick this time the keeper tipped over. From the resultant corner the keeper failed to collect Grant Nelson’s corner and the ball was cleared off the line.

Rangers trialist then broke forward from midfield and played Kieran Pirrie through on the right side of the box with the Motherwell keeper coming from his line to block. Just before the end of the first period Rangers took the lead, Jordan Houston’s driven cross being deflected past the keeper for an Own Goal.

Rangers extended their lead when Sam Jamieson’s free-kick was cleared to the edge of the box Liam Burt fired a shot into the ground and towards  Aidan Wilson who hooked the ball over his head and in to the net. The fourth goal soon followed with Dean Picken on hand net from Grant Nelson’s corner from the left.

Rangers continued to dominate and when Lewis Ferguson sent Sam Jamieson clear on the right his cross was converted at the back post by Euan McMillan with a great finish to complete the scoring in the second period.

Rangers trialist was the creator of the next goal with some good play on the right hand byline and his pass across goal gave Jay Willis a simple tap in. The Trialist then capped his performance when he found the net from the edge of the box after collecting a pass played in from the right. Scoring was complete when Jay Willis cut in from the left past two defenders before shooting beyond the keeper.

Full-Time:- Rangers 8 Motherwell 1

Rangers Squad:- Darren Montgomery (Gk), Jordan Houston, Kieran Laing, Dean Picken, Aidan Wilson, Trialist, Liam Burt, Lewis Ferguson, Kieran Pirrie, Sam Jamieson, Grant Nelson, Jay Willis, Euan McMillan.

Rangers 7 Inverness Caley Thistle 1

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The weather continued to be severe and the teams kicked-off about ten minutes ahead of the scheduled 1.30 start. Rangers were having the bulk of possession but were finding the visitors difficult to break Caley down. The first real chance was created by some good work from Scott Roberts on the left and when his cross came in Adam Wilson headed straight at the keeper.

The left side proved to be the source when Rangers took the lead, Jamie Mills playing the ball forward to Scott Roberts who went past the full-back before passing to Tom Walsh who in turn moved the ball on to Gloady Ntumba to shoot past the keeper. The same player then had a great chance to double both his and Rangers tally when he was played through the middle but his shot was wide of the keeper’s left hand post.

Half-Time:- Rangers 1 Inverness Caley Thistle 0

Rangers increased their lead when Scott Roberts chased the ball to the byline on the left, his back heel gave possession to Gloady Ntumba who progressed along the byline before crossing for Adam Wilson to net at the far post. Junior Ogen then came close rising to head Tom Walsh’s corner from the right narrowly over.

When Scott Roberts cut in from the left before playing the ball through for Gloady Ntumba the Caley keeper saved at the striker’s feet and the ball broke loose, with the keeper clearly injured the referee should have stopped the game, with players from both sides hesitating Tom Walsh back heeled the ball into the net. Rangers fourth goal soon followed and it was superb individual effort from Lewis Morgan, cutting in from the right he went past two defenders before firing into the bottom corner.

Another good run on the right from Lewis Morgan and a pass inside to Tom Walsh who moved the ball onto Scott Roberts only to be denied by the keeper low to his right. The keeper was again in action this time diverting Gloady Ntumba’s shot wide when he was played through on the right side of the box. From the corner the keeper failed to gather and although he blocked Gloady Ntumba’s shot it broke to Greg Pascazio who scored from close range.

The visitors pulled a goal back when Jamie Mills gave the ball away on the left, it was played to the edge of the box and the striker sidestepped a defender before shooting past Liam Kelly. Rangers were soon back on the attack and when Ben Reilly chased the ball towards the byline on the left Lewis Morgan seemed certain to score from his low cross but the keeper produced a superb point-blank save.

A goal soon followed when Ben Reilly found the overlapping Ryan Sinnamon on the right Gloady Ntumba was on hand to convert his cross. The final goal came from the penalty spot, Tom Walsh passing to Gloady Ntumba on the left side of the box, he turned the defender inside then out before being tripped, the keeper guessed right diving to his left but just couldn’t quite prevent Dylan Dykes spotkick finding the net.

Full-Time:- Rangers 7 Inverness Caley Thistle 1

Rangers:- Liam Kelly; Ryan Sinnamon, David Brownlie, Greg Pascazio, Jamie Mills; Adam Wilson (Lewis Morgan), Junior Ogen (Ally Berry), Dylan Dykes, Tom Walsh, Scott Roberts (Ben Reilly); Gloady Ntumba.

Footnote:- At the same time Rangers U15’s lost 3-2 to their ICT counterparts. On Saturday Rangers U12’s had a 6-2 victory away to Motherwell.

Game Time & Player Development

February 4, 2013

Anyone that takes an interest in pro-youth football will be aware that “game time” is a hot topic. From Under 11’s through the age groups you will he it discussed on the sidelines and its on the agenda of the majority of coach/parent reviews at every club.

The Development League fixtures at under 11’s and the first half of the under 12 season are four seven-a-side games, in which two are played simultaneously, allowing the rotation of a squad of around twenty players. From the second half of the under 12 season through to under 17’s the games are played over ninety minutes in three thitty minute periods (a bizarre decision by the powers that be changed under 15 fixtures to two forty minute halves, reducing the available game time by ten minutes), the under 17’s being the other exception where the game is played over the conventional forty-five minute each way. This provides a structure to rotate a squad, which on a game by game basis is usually 16/17 players ample time to allow a decent amount of game time for all. Although these games are non-competitive there is at least a structure to the fixture list, with the first half of the season’s fixtures released in August and the second half in January.

Personally I feel by under 17’s the games should be competitive and a league table published. A competitive element is available to Rangers via the Glasgow Cup. The round robin format means eight games and since it has gone to this format it has always been an Old Firm final, so the likelihood is nine competitive games.

Then problem arises for players in the under 18 – under 20 age group. In the past Rangers always played in the SPL Youth League, which this season has changed to an under 20 league. Three additional clubs, Dunfermline Athletic, Hamilton Accies and Falkirk were added and it is now a fifteen team league. Only people inside the club know why Rangers are not the sixteenth club, a minority view is that not invited, but the more common opinion is that they declined to take part. Had Rangers been included it would have given the club thirty competitive fixtures, and a schedule that takes them through to May.

So what was the alternative for this group of players ? An entry into the SFA Youth Cup gave four ties until they were eliminated by Kilmarnock and the club’s entry into the “any age” SFL Reserve League provides another thirteen fixtures.

At the start of the season the club had twenty players in the 18-20 age bracket, Lewis McLeod is a first team regular, Barrie McKay  has played a fair bit of first team football and Robbie Crawford and Fraser Aird  have been first team squad players. Kyle McAusland got a season long loan move to Ayr United and Kamil Wiktorski has left the club. So how have the other fourteen players fared in terms of competitive game time ? It’s not good news for most of them.

Injury and suspension has had an impact is some cases but the overall pattern is obvious. In the four youth cup ties only Blair Currie and Luca Gasparotto played all of the 360 minutes (under 17 player Ryan Sinnamon also achieved this), Callum Gallagher was only eleven minutes short. At the other end the scale Stuart Urquhart(45) and Charlie Telfer(148) were on the pitch for less than half of the 360 minutes.

The SFL Reserve League stats are if anything worse. With the Queen’s Park game still to be played  and  being unable to confirm the lineup for the Stenhousemuir game, I have looked at the other eleven fixtures. Out of a possible 990 minutes, only three of the group played more than half the game time. Luca Gasparotto (630), Callum Gallagher (539) and Stuart Urquhart (477). Players that spent less than 300 minutes on the pitch included Matty Clarke (296), Jamie Burrows (269) and Charlie Telfer (214).

Player game times a s follows, the first figure is youth cup ties (360 max) the second is SFL Reserve ( 990 max) and the final figure is the total (1350 max).

Luca Gasparotto                            360/630/990

Callum Gallagher                            349/539/888

Blair Currie                                        360/315/675

Jordan Wilson                                 194/405/599

Andy Murdoch                               204/355/559

Darren Ramsay                               198/329/527

Stuart Urquhart                              45/477/522

Matty Clarke                                     225/296/521

Jamie Burrows                                225/269/494

Charlie Telfer                                    148/214/362

Gregor Fotheringham                   259/86/345

Craig Halkett                                    173/27/200

Alan Smith                                          0/0/0

Kris Gibson                                        0/0/0

So there you have it, the best case being Luca Gasparotto who has played the equivalent of eleven competitive games, while Charlie Telfer and Gregor Fotheringham’s game time has amounted to less than three games ( I’m guessing the Stenhousemuir game might have taken them just over it). How does that help these players development ? There is talk of a Reserve League Cup,but at present what teams would enter it, Rangers included, and what format it would take is unknown. As it stands at the moment these players have ONE competitive game, the reserve game against Queen’s Park to aim for for the rest of the season.

The slack is taken up with bounce/friendly games, which are usually arranged at short notice.The opposition can be a lower standard with one-sided games (Queen of The South, Manchester Football Academy) or ironically SPL sides such as Hearts, Hibs, Motherwell and St.Johnstone. It’s likely that these players couldn’t tell you when their next scheduled game is, unless something has just been arranged in the last couple of days.  At least Callum Gallagher and Gregor Fotheringham have secured loan moves which will hopefully mean regular competitive games.

With another ten players stepping up from under 17’s at the end of this season and only Alan Smith of these fourteen players will not be under 20 next season. If the same decisions are made next season by what ever party, a structure needs to be put in place to ensure these players get regular games against decent opposition. In December Charles Green said games against English opposition would be arranged at youth level, we are now in February and the only game so far was a “closed-door” reserve game against Carlisle United.

I’m pretty sure the lack of game time and lack of opportunity for coaches to see them in action has been a barrier to a few more going out on loan. A repeat next season could see a delay in the progression of these players.

14’s See Off Accies

February 2, 2013

Rangers 7 Hamilton Accies 2

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A third period goal surge saw Rangers U14’s pull clear of Hamilton Accies at Murray Park this morning. The Rangers youngsters took an early lead in the second minute, Liam Burt and Sam Jamieson worked a short corner on the right and from the former’s cross Blair Docherty rose to head past the keeper.

The visitor’s replied straight away with an attack on the left side of the box and when the ball was played across the six yard box their striker just couldn’t reach it. Keeper Lewis Muir came to Rangers rescue in the thirteenth minute, following some good play on the right when the cross came into the box Dean Picken’s header went straight to the Accies player and a goal looked certain but Lewis Muir made a fine block.

When the ball was played up to Sam Jamieson on the quarter-hour and good first touch and great pass sent Liam Burt clear on the right and his shot looked netbound till the keeper dived high to his left to make a fine save. The end to end theme continued with the visitor’s long-range effort a few minutes later just clearing the bar.

Accies then drew level on twenty-two minutes, the initial attack came on the left side of the penalty area with Lewis Muir doing well to block the shot with his legs, but the ball looped up towards the back post where it was headed into the net. The teams then exchanged goals int the final two minutes of the first period, Rangers regained the lead when Liam Burt’s corner from the right was headed into the net by Dean Picken. The lead was short-lived and some good individual play coming in from thr right and a shot from just inside the box beat Lewis Muir low to his left.

Chances were few in the first twenty minutes of the second period until Accies broke through the middle but the attempted lob over Lewis Muir was wide of his right hand post. Rangers replied with an exchange of pass between Jamie Barjonas and Sam Jamieson on the left before setting up Blair Docherty for a shot that the keeper dived to his left to parry.

The visitor’s keeper then did well to hold on to Kieran Laing’s long-range effort just under the bar. Almost immediately Rangers took the lead, Sam Jamieson’s superb reverse pass sent Liam Burt clear in the right side of the box to shoot past the keeper. With a couple of minutes of the period remaining an attack down the left setup a scramble in front of Rangers goal and with the ball heading towards the net Lewis Muir got across to save low at his left hand post.

In the opening minute of the third period Rangers extended their lead from the penalty spot, Kieran Pirrie found Blair Docherty breaking into the box where he went down under a challenge and the referee awarded a rather soft penalty, the same player converted from twelve yards. From Sam Jamieson’s corner from the left a defensive header rebounded goalwards from another defender but the keeper dived to his left to save.

With just over fifteen minutes remaining Sam Jamieson’s neat header over the Accies defence at the edge of the box setup Kieran Pirrie to shoot past the keeper. As the game entered the last five minutes Kieran Pirrie broke halfway and passed to Sam Jamieson on the right side of the box, he unselfishly returned the ball for Kieran Pirrie to notch Rangers sixth.

The scoring was complete when Sam Jamieson switched played from right to left, where Jay Willis progressed into the box to shoot past the keeper.

Full-Time:- Rangers 7 Hamilton Accies 2

Rangers Squad:- Lewis Muir (Gk), Euan McMillan, Kieran Laing, Dean Picken, Scott Gray, Lewis Ferguson, Liam Burt, Jamie Barjonas, Sam Jamieson, Blair Docherty, Ben Andoh, Jay Willis, Lewis Mayo, Kieran Pirrie