Today saw Rangers take on Celtic at three age groups, with along three games kicking off an 1pm, the 13’s and 14’s meeting at Murray Park and the 15’s game going ahead at Lennoxtown. I didn’t see the point of travelling to Lennoxtown when the were games at the superior Murray Park and as my usual convention I take in the older group, so it was the 14’s game for me.
Rangers 2 Celtic 2
It was clear how Celtic saw the route to closing the gap between the sides from last season, as the teams lined up the six biggest players on the pitch were in the Celtic lineup. Yet it was the Rangers youngsters that caught the eye in the opening period and came close to taking the lead on five minutes. Andy Rodden’s corner from the right found its way to Aiden Gibb at the back post with the Celtic keeper getting down low to his right to parry his effort and when the Rangers keeper followed up he could only fire into the side netting.
A further five minutes had elapsed when Dylan Patterson sent Kieran McKechnie down the right, his cross into the box found Niyah Joseph but his header was straight at the keeper. A couple of minutes later Celtic sent a free kick just right of centre and midway inside Rangers half into the penalty area, there seemed little danger until the ball slipped from Brian Kinnear’s grasp and bounced of his left hand post, their striker followed up but could only knock the ball wide. Rangers continued to have the better of the first period but there was no further clear-cut chances and the period ended goalless.
Celtic were having the upper hand territorially in the second period but the first chance came on thirteen minutes at the other end. Dylan Patterson sent Niyah Joseph through the inside left channel, as he went round the keeper he was forced wide and as a result failed to find the net with his shot on goal. Ten minutes later a superb Billy Gilmour pass inside the left back found the overlapping Ruaridh McIntyre who’s first time low cross had Dapo Mebude stretching but he could only knock the ball over. Four minutes before the end of the period Celtic took the lead with their first real chance of the match, they won possession on the halfway line wide on the left and broke forward, when the ball was played into the box their giant midfielder didn’t connect cleanly but it was enough to beat Brian Kinnear.
Rangers started the final period on the attack and when Kieran McKechnie hit the byline on the left his cross was cleared to the edge of the box where it was collected by Billy Gilmour who’s shot was just wide of the keeper’s right hand post. With five minutes of the period gone Rangers equalised from the penalty spot, Kieran McKechnie wide on the left played the ball into Dapo Mebude inside the box where he was bundled over, the Rangers striker stepped up to fire the spotkick into the keeper’s bottom right hand corner.
Five minutes before the turn around the Celtic midfielder strode forward and tried his luck from distance with Nicky Hogarth diving high to his left to turn the ball wide of the post. A few minutes after the turn around the same midfielder gave Celtic the lead with a superb solo effort, attacking the centre of Rangers defence his run took him past four defenders and deep in to the box to prod the ball past Nicky Hogarth.
With a couple of minute remaining Rangers drew level again, Billy Gilmour’s pass sent Dapo Mebude through and he should good strength to hold of the bigger defender and continue into the box and shoot high past the keeper. The next major incident saw Rangers reduced to ten men, unusually at this age group the referee decided to show Aiden Gibb a second yellow and subsequent red for a challenge on the halfway line..
With a man advantage and superior height and strength Celtic created a couple of chances from set plays in the lengthy period of injury time, Rangers struggled to clear a free-kick from the right and when it landed at the feet of a Celtic player around the penalty spot his shot was deflected wide of Nicky Hogarth’s right hand post. The final action saw another Celtic free-kick go all the way to the back post where there player failed to connect and the ball drifted wide.
At the end of the day these games are about development and the full Rangers squad played at least thirty minutes, where as one Celtic sub got around fifteen minutes, a second got a few minutes replacing an injured player and the other four got no game time whatsoever.
Full-Time:- Rangers 2 Celtic 2
Rangers Squad:- Brian Kinnear (Gk), Nicky Hogarth (Gk), Nathan Patterson, Andy Rodden, Danny Finlayson, Aiden Gibb, Ben Williamson, Kieran McKechnie, Billy Gilmour, Dapo Mebude, Dylan Patterson, Niyah Joseph, Jamie Walker, Zac Butterworth, Ruaridh McIntyre, Lewis McGrattan.
Footnote:- At the same time Rangers Under 13’s went down 4-1, with Rangers goal coming from Callum Biggar. Meanwhile at Lennoxtown goals from Stephen Kelly & Mati Zata were enough to give Rangers 15’s a 2-1 win.
The fixture are completed tomorrow when the Under 17’s meet at Barrowfield Kick-Off 6pm.