Archive for December, 2019

Under 18’s Win Again

December 18, 2019

Rangers 4 Dundee 1

It probably wasn’t the Under 18’s best performance of the season against Dundee tonight but it was still enough to secure their twelfth win in twelve games.

There was barely three minutes on the clock when Rangers took the lead, Ross McCausland’s shot from tight on the right hand byline deflected off a defender and looped over the keeper and into the net. Dundee had a great chance three minutes later, the attack took them deep into the left hand side of the box, Jay Hogarth blocked the shot and when the ball looped up into the air he reacted quickest to gather before a Dundee player could pounce.

The visitors came closer still on the quarter  hour mark, when a cross came in from the left it broke off a Rangers defender to the Dundee striker who volleyed against the bar with his colleague just missing the rebound at the far post. Rangers capitalised on that let off by doubling their lead a couple of minutes later. Adam Devine got to the right hand byline from where he picked out Cole McKinnon who gave the keeper no chance from just inside the box.

Just after the hour mark Cole McKinnon cut in from the left past a defender before shooting across the keeper into the far corner of the net. Rangers had another chance seven minutes before the break, Matty Yates picked out Cole McKinnon on the left side of the penalty area and he passed to Umaro Balde who shot just wide of the far post.

Half-Time:- Rangers 3 Dundee 0

Dundee got back into the match just after the hour mark, Kyle McClelland missed a through ball leaving the attacker clear to continue and lob the ball over Jay Hogarth. Five minutes later a good passing move end with a twenty-five yarder from Cole McKinnon that forced a fine save with from the keeper. With Dire Mebude gaining possession inside the left side of the box he passed to Ross McCausland but the keeper excelled again diverting the ball wide of his near post.

With seven minute remaining the Dundee keeper was called into action again, this time diving high to his left to parry Alex Lowry’s twenty-five yard free-kick.  Soon after Dundee had a free-kick of their own and from the right hand angle of the box, but the shot was just wide of Jay Hogarth’s right hand post.

The scoring was completed with four minutes remaining, Alex Lowry’s pass inside the full back allowed Dire Mebude to hit the left hand byline, his cutback picked out Ross McCausland, the keeper got a foot to the striker’s shot but couldn’t prevent it reaching the net.

Full-Time:- Rangers 4 Dundee 1

Rangers:- Jay Hogarth; Adam Devine (Robbie Fraser HT), Lewis Mackinnon, Kyle McClelland, Matthew Henderson (Jack Harkness 63 mins); Umaro Balde (Connor Allan 72 mins), Alex Lowry; Cole McKinnon; Ross McCausland, Matty Yates (Dire Mebude 63 mins), Chris McKee (Arron Lyall 50 mins).

Not Used:- Jack McConnell (Gk)

Athletico Madrid UEFA Youth League

December 17, 2019

Now that the draw has been made and we have been paired with Athletico Madrid in the next phase of the UEFA Youth League, its a good time to have a closer look at our opponents. Athletico finished runner’s up in Group D to Juventus, winning four and losing two of their six games.

They had a bad start to the tournament losing 0-4 at home to Juventus, at Atheltico’s new academy base Centro Deportivo Wanda Alcalá de Henares. It was only opened in September and incorporates a 2,700 capacity stadium. A dramatic win in Lokomotiv Moscow’s 10,000 capacity Sapsan Arena followed. Leading 2-0 through goals from Cedric Teguia and Rodrigo Riquelme, they were pegged back with goals in the 89th and 90th minutes but secured the points with a 92nd minute Riquelme winner.

Back to back games with Bayer Leverkusen followed and a pair of 2-0 wins saw them stack up the points. A goal from Marco Moreno and an own goal by Kevin Bukusu was the source of the win at the Deportivo Wanda Alcalá de Henares. While Alberto Salido and Isaiah Navarro Diaz were the scorers in the return at the 3,500 capacity Ulrich Haberland Stadion.

A better performance away to Juventus at the Juventus training ground saw Alberto Salido give them the lead before finally losing 2-1 to a 94th minute goal. The top two in the group was already decided before the final game at home to Lokomotive Moscow. That game had entered the final twenty minutes when a Nacho Quintana penalty gave Athletico the lead, late goals from Tenas Urena and Soto Maldonado made it comfortable.

So who are we likely to see when they come to Glasgow ?

The likely goalkeeper is 18 year old Jose Saldana who played in five of the six group games losing eight goals. His deputy is another 18 year old Alex Fernandez who played in the final group game against Lokomotiv Moscow.

The likely left-back is over age player Fernando Medrano who has played every minute of the tournament so far and has featured six times for Athletico’s B side in the Spanish third tier. Another ever present in the tournament is Spanish Youth International Marco Moreno, he joined Athletico from Las Palmas from Gran Canaria three years ago. Likely to feature is Manuel Lama Maroto who played in five of the six games and another 18 year old. The final place in the back four will come from Iker Recio, Ganzallo Camello, Venezuelan,  Adrian Cova and 16 year old Spanish youth international Adrian Granado.

Pretty much a stick on for one of the midfield slots is Oscar Castro a Spanish youth international who has played in the UEFA Youth League since 2017 racking up sixteen appearances. He should be joined by fellow youth internationalist and over age player Rodrigo Riquelme, a player who made his La Liga debut last January as a late sub against SD Eibar, his appearances for Athletico B are in double figures.

There are several options for that final place in midfield,  Javier Hyjek who chose to player for Poland the country of his mother and is capped at Under 19 level. Spanish youth internationals Mario Soriano, Soto Maldonado, Rafael Nunez and German Valera who joined from Villareal, and a recent scorer in the ‘B’ derby against Real Madrid Castilla,which Athletico won 2-0. Most likely could be another Venezuelan, Fernando  Ramirez who has featured in five of the group games. They could call on regular group games subs in Navarro Diaz and Nacho Quintana and an over age player with B team experience in Adrain Ferreras.

The attacking trio is likely to be left winger and captain Cedric Teguia, fellow Spanish youth International Tenas Urena and over age player Alberto Salido. All three have third tier league experience with Athletico Madrid B who are sitting second in the league, having won eleven and drew two of their sixteen games. The back up coming from right winger Carlos Humberto and some of the more versatile players listed for midfield

An interesting game to look forward to. Uefa have the game as follows, which seems to detailed not to be accurate.

Wednesday 12th February 2020

Firhill Stadium

Kick-Off 1 PM

Which means I can go before heading to the first team game against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Last Minute Winner For Under 19’s

December 16, 2019

Rangers 2 Aberdeen 1

Rangers came from behind to win with a last minute Ciaran Dickson strike in a development game against an Aberdeen side that had a bit more first team experience.

Aberdeen had an early chance on ten minutes when Michael Ruth had a free header from Dean Campbell’s corner from the right but his header went wide of the far post. With the midpoint of the half approaching Josh McPake cut in from the left going past three defenders before playing in Zac Butterworth inside the right side of the penalty area with Luke Turner deflecting his shot wide of the near post.

The visitor’s took the lead seven minutes before the break, Dean Campbell attacked the right hand angle of the box and passed to Lloyd Robertson who shot across Brian Kinnear and into the far corner of the net. A couple of minutes before the break Dapo Mebude went past Luke Turner inside the right side of the box with keeper Sam Jackson blocking the shot with his foot.

Half-Time:- Rangers 0 Aberdeen 1

The half was barely five minutes old when Rangers attacked and Murray Miller had a shooting chance when the ball broke to him but it was weak and Sam Jackson saved comfortably. A couple of minutes later Rangers were level through a stunning Ross McCausland strike, Murray Miller went into a challenge and poked the ball to the Rangers substitute who gave Sam Jackson no chance with an unstoppable shot from around twenty -five yards.

With the half nearing it’s midpoint Kane Ritchie-Hosler’s pass released Ross McCausland inside the left side of the penalty area but Sam Jackson stood up to make the save. The game had entered the final ten minutes when Cole McKinnon past to Ross McCausland on the left side of the box and he cut inside before shooting narrowly over.

Rangers grabbed what proved to be the winner with a minute remaining, Ross McCausland was in possession inside the left side of the box and close to the byline, he passed to Murray Miller on the edge of the box who moved the ball to his right for Ciaran Dickson to shoot into Sam Jackson’s bottom right hand corner. Aberdeen had one last chance from Connor McLennan’s near post corner from the right, Kevin Hanratty  got there first with Brian Kinnear making the save from the header.

Full-Time:- Rangers 2 Aberdeen 1

Rangers:- Brian Kinnear; Zac Butterworth, Danny Finlayson, Rhys Breen, James Maxwell; Murray Miller; Ben Williamson (Cole McKinnon 81 mins); Ciaran Dickson; Kane Ritchie-Hosler (Arron Lyall 67 mins), Dapo Mebude, Josh McPake (Ross McCausland 52 mins).

Not Used:- Jay Hogarth (Gk), Kyle McClelland, Umaro Balde, Lewis Mackinnon.

Aberdeen:- Sam Jackson; Trialist (Kevin Hanratty 84 mins), Luc Bollan, Luke Turner, Jack Mackenzie; Lloyd Robertson, Dean Campbell (Connor Barron 67 mins), Michael Ruth (Calvin Ramsay 84 mins); Connor McLennan, Seb Ross (David Dangana 67 mins); Bruce Anderson.

Not Used:- Tom Ritchie (Gk), Jack Chesser, Kieran Shanks.

Rangers UEFA Youth League Squad

December 14, 2019

I thought I would do a write up on Rangers UEFA Youth League squad ahead of Monday’s draw. First of all a brief explanation of player eligibility, before the start of the tournament clubs can register a squad of up to 40 players. This squad list can be altered seven days before a game. The general rule is players must be born on or after 1st January 2001, there is an exception to this and each club can register five players born on or after 1st January 2000. So in effect an under 19 tournament with five under 20 players in a 40 man registration list.

By midnight before games a maximum of a 20 player squad is named, this can include a maximum of three of the five overage players. I said in the preview of possible opponents that Broussia Dortmund could technically field Jadon Sancho, he meets the criteria as an over age player, but there is a rule that if a player has featured in three Champions League or Europa League games they are not eligible for the UEFA Youth League.

I was told by the club that the players out on loan are not eligible ruling out the likes of Josh McPake,  and a few over age players. This doesn’t seem to fit with an RB Salzburg squad who virtually all play for FC Liefering in the Austrian second division.

With six of the nine Under 20 players out on loan the three remaining are the only overage players registered in the Rangers squad. All three players have been at the club since a very young age.

Lewis Mayo – Lewis has played in three of the four games so far, missing out on the home tie against Young Boys due to injury. He has mainly been a centre back so far in his career but has played in a midfield role in both the UEFA Youth League and Challenge Cup this season. Lewis has featured in first team friendlies this season and was an unused sub for the Europa League Qualifying home tie against St.Joseph’s. He has represented Scotland at youth level up to Under 19’s.

Rhys Breen Left sided centre back Rhys has featured in all four games and has been an ever present in the Challenge Cup. Struggled with injury for three seasons and only played sporadically, that is hopefully behind him and has generally been injury free this season. His injury problems may explain why, as yet he has not represented Scotland.

Jack Thomson – Unfortunately Jack has not featured in this season’s UEFA Youth League due to injury. Still not featuring at present so I am unsure if he will be available when the tie comes round in February. Jack who would most likely feature in midfield if available played in the Challenge Cup ties against Berwick Rangers and Stranraer before his injury. Represented Scotland at various age groups.

Now a look at the others likely to feature.

Lewis Budinauckas – The likely goalkeeper is Under 18 player Lewis who has played in three of the four games. He was also the penalty shoot-out hero in the Challenge Cup tie against Solihull Moors. Son of former Partick Thistle and Clyde keeper Kevin Budinauckas, Lewis is an excellent shot stopper. As yet he hasn’t been selected at youth international level.

Jay Hogarth – Deputised for Lewis Budinauckas in the away tie against Slovan Bratislava Jay is an Under 17 goalkeeper and has been capped by Scotland at that level. His older brother Nicky as an Under 19 and would be eligible but is currently on loan at Lowland League side Caldedonia Braves (formerly Edusport). His father Myles was also a keeper and played in the Hearts Youth Cup winning side of 1993 and went on to play for Falkirk and Stirling Albion among others.

The other goalkeepers included in the squad list are Under 17 Grant Thackray and Jack McConnell who is a current member of the Scotland Under 16 squad.

Nathan Patterson Nathan has been a highly impressive attacking right-back in both in this season’s Challenge Cup as well as the UEFA Youth League. He has played in all four games and scored Rangers first goal in the competition in the away tie at Young Boys. He has represented Scotland at various age groups.

Danny Finlayson – Another ever present in the previous four games, Danny has become a goal scoring centre back, netting in both ties against Young Boys. He has also been a regular in the Challenge Cup but missed out on the Wrexham game as he was playing in Nothern Ireland Under 19’s 1-1 draw with Germany. He was picked for Scotland at a young youth age group before changing his allegiance to Northern Ireland where he was recently selected for the Under 21 squad.

James Maxwell Joined Rangers on the demise of Forth Valley Academy in December 2017 and he has made fantastic progress to nail down a place in all UEFA Youth League games. Also a regular in this season challenge cup and scored in the quarter final against Wrexham. Came to the club as a wide midfielder but now featuring more at full back. Received a well deserved call up to Scotland’s Under 19 squad.

Harris O’Connor Equally comfortable at full-back or centre back, Harris joined Rangers from Kilmarnock a couple of years ago, he was previously on the books of Charlton Athletic before his family moved north. Only played one minute in this season’s tournament as a last minute substitute in the home game against Young Boys. Represented Scotland at youth international level.

Zac Butterworth Joined Rangers I think as an Under 13 player from Alloa Athletic. Zac has alternated between full-back and midfield roles. A couple of substitute appearances in this season’s tournament with a late cameo against Wrexham in the Challenge Cup has been his highlights so far this season. Zac has also represented Scotland at youth level.

Other defenders who may feature are Kyle McClelland, under 18 centre back who has represented Northern Ireland at Under 19 having been in Scotland squads at a younger age. Youngest player who may feature is U16 player Leon King who is a regular at U18, a centre back but can play full-back or midfield. Played for Scotland above his age group at U17’s.

Ciaran Dickson – Still Under 18 but rarely plays at that level as he has pushed into the Development Squad. Ever present in the UEFA Youth League he scored in the first tie against Young Boys. Ciaran broke into the Challenge Cup team with a start against Wrexham. He is usually the furthest forward of the midfield three and is a regular in Scotland youth squads.

Murray Miller – Holding midfielder joined Rangers from Motherwell a couple of years ago, boasts amazing pass completion stats as he keeps the game ticking over. He has played in three of the four UEFA Youth League games, and was an unused sub in the fourth. Scored a rare goal in the recent Youth Cup tie at Ross County. Surprisingly over looked by Scotland recently, Murray has played at youth level for Australia.

Ben Williamson – I first saw Ben at Under 13’s where his midfield competition was Billy Gilmour (Chelsea), Harry Cochrane (Hearts) and Lewis McGrattan (Morton). Ben has seen them move on for one reason or another and he has featured in all UEFA Youth League games this season. He is a competitive midfielder who loves a tackle. As of yet he has not had any international recognition.

Cole McKinnon – Cole made a late cameo appearance in the last game in Bratislava. He resisted the lure of pro-youth remaining at Drunsagard Boys Club before joining Rangers permanently for the start of his Under 16 season. I have watched him as a Rangers “trialist” as far back as Under 13’s. Now an Under 17 player, he has got over an early season injury and now playing in the under 18’s. His older brother Andy was previously a Rangers youth player. Cole is a Scotland youth international.

Another player who could feature in midfield is summer recruit from Sporting Lisbon Umaro Balde. Umaro is a holding midfielder, now an Under 18 he represented Portugal at U15.

Kai Kennedy – An ever present in both UEFA Youth League and Challenge Cup this season an one of the top performers. Who ever we play will have noted his performances in previous games, including a goal in Switzerland against Young Boys. Used either as the wide left attacker or more central in a No. 10 role Kai was close to making the bench for the recent first team game at  Hamilton.Still Under 18 but mostly playing with the Development Squad. A regular Scottish international through the age groups.

Nathan Young-Coombes Joined from Chelsea in January this year Nathan has been a revelation. Still an Under 17 player his four goals in the four games make him top scorer and our biggest goal threat. Scored his first goal for the Develpment Squad in the Challenge Cup quarter final against Wrexham. Like Ciaran Dickson and Kai Kennedy he rarely plays at Under 18’s. Nathan is also a current England youth international.

Dapo Mebude Another first pick in the UEFA Youth League Dapo completes Rangers potent front three. He captained the side in the Young Boys home tie in Lewis Mayo’s absence and scored in the home game against Slovan Bratislava. Only player with top team experience when he replaced Daniel Candieas in a 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock in May. His younger brother Dire is also in the UEFA Youth League group, he is an Under 16 player and has played for Scotland at that age group. Older brother Done was also briefly at Rangers. Dapo is a regular in Scotland youth squads.

Arron Lyall – Rangers go to attacking substitute in the UEFA Youth League coming on in all four games. An Under 17 player and Scottish Youth international he usually plays on the right of the front three. A regular in Rangers Under 18 side this season.

Chris McKee – Northern Ireland youth International striker, Chris joined Rangers from Linfield at the start of last season. A late substitute in the home game against Young Boys. Chris has scored regularly for Rangers Under 18’s this season.

Another attacking option is Kane Ritchie-Hosler a summer recruit from Manchester City.

I have tried to pick out the most likely players to feature from the registered squad. There is a chance that others could break through and the following are in the group of registered players.

Defence – Under 18 full-back Ryan Muir, Under 17 full-back’s Adam Devine and Matthew Henderson who have represented Scotland. Northern Ireland Youth International centre-back Lewis Mackinnon and Scotland Under 16’s defenders Harley & Kelsey Ewan.

Midfield – USA Under 17 cap Julian Anderson, Czech midfielder Krystof Hampl, Robbie Fraser and Alex Lowrie who have both represented Scotland and possibly Kieran McKechnie.

Attack – Northern Ireland Youth International Ross McCausland and striker Matty Yates who has been at Rangers since a young age.


Rangers Edge Out Sunderland

December 14, 2019

Rangers 3 Sunderland 2

Today’s game was billed as an Under 16 friendly, the Sunderland squad was made up of 2004 and 2005 players. While Rangers starting lineup included six 2004’s (one had to be replaced early in the game), three 2005’s and two trialists, with two 2005’s and two 2006’s on the bench. In difficult conditions the English side established a two goal lead before Rangers came back strongly to turn it around.

Sunderland took the lead from attack on the left and the ball was unselfishly squared to an unmarked player in the centre to shoot past Jack McConnell. On twenty-five minutes Dire Mebude had a chance to get a shot away but cut inside a defender and when he did shoot the keeper saved.

Within a minute Rangers Trialist No.7 cut in from the right and went past two defenders but shot across goal and just wide of the far post. He then tried his luck again this time forcing a save from the keeper.

With the half in the final ten minutes a Sunderland player found himself in possession on the left hand byline and picked out a colleague around the penalty spot who shot past Jack McConnell. Rangers reduced the deficit within two minutes, Trialist No.7 attacked the right side of the penalty area before picking out Gavin Gallagher who shot into the keeper’s bottom right hand corner. Five minutes before the break Connor Allan broke forward and passed to Trialist No.7, he then exchanged passes with his fellow trialist No.8 before racing clear to beat the keeper. Sunderland then had a great chance just before the break, they attacked deep into the left side of the box with Jack McConnell diving to his left to make the save.

Half-Time:- Rangers 2 Sunderland 2

Sunderland dominated the early stages of the second half but some stout defending meant they failed to trouble Jack McConnell in the Rangers goal. Around the sixty-five minute mark Trialist No.8 broke forward and released Rory Wilson inside the right side of the penalty area, he played the ball across the box to the unmarked Dire Mebude who seemed sure to score but was denied by the keeper.

A couple of minutes later Rory Wilson passed to Trialist No.7 who went past a defender into the right side of the box but the keeper stood tall to make the block at his near post. Rangers were now searching for the winner and good passing move ended with Trialist No.8 passing to Rory Wilson whose shot from just inside the box was tipped over.

The winner came with eight minutes remaining, Trialist No8, Kerr Robertson and Trialist No.7 were all involved in the move that got the ball to Rory Wilson inside the right side of the penalty area and he beat the keeper with a sublime lob.

Full-Time:- Rangers 3 Sunderland 2

Rangers Squad:- Jack McConnell (Gk), Scott Cowie (Gk), Callum Sandilands, Connor Allan, Adam Forrester, Jack Harkness, Mackenzie Strachan, Trialist No.8, Gavin Gallagher, Trialist No.7, Dire Mebude, Zak Queen, Kerr Robertson, Rory Wilson, Jamie Newton.


Possible UEFA Youth League Opponents

December 12, 2019

A wee look at who Rangers could face in Monday’s UEFA Youth League Draw.

Club Brugge

Comfortably finished runners up in Group A to Real Madrid they are full of Belgian youth internationals at various age groups. They beat PSG home and away, swopped wins with Galatasaray  and after losing in Madrid they grabbed a point in their last game with a 95th minute header from goalkeeper Senne Lammens !!

They are captained by Maxim De Cuyper who is a Belgian youth international, with the goal threat likely to come from fellow youth internationals Mathias De Wolf, Wilkims Ochieng and Noah Aelterman who was their top scorer in the groups. 

They could call on Odilon Kossounou who hails from The Ivory coast, a €2.5million signing from Hammarby who has featured in two Champions League games as well as the Juliper Pro League. Another with Champions League experience, featuring in four games is Charles De Ketelaere, he has also played in the Juliper Pro League, as has defender Ignace Van Der Brempt.

Red Star Belgrade

A comfortable second place behind Bayern Munich despite a heavy 9-2 defeat to Spurs, they turned that round with a 2-0 win a fortnight later. Home and away wins over Olympiakos and two draws with Bayern Munich saw them through.

May look on paper as one of the weaker options but as you would expect they have a lot of Serbian youth internationals. Their eight goals in the group stages were shared across the squad with only Andrija Radulovic scoring two.

They are captained by striker Borisav Burmaz with defender Aleksandar Lukic deputising on a couple of occasions. It doesn’t appear that any of the squad have featured in the senior team this season.

Dinamo Zagreb

A narrow win over Manchester City in the final group game saw them pip the English Premiership side to second place behind Atalanta. They won one and lost one against the Italian side, drew in Manchester and a win and a draw with Shakhtar Donetsk made up their eleven point total.

They only scored six goals in the group games, with Croatian youth international Leon Sipos scoring two. As well as a host of Croatian youth internationals the squad includes players who have represented Bosnia, Slovenia and Albania at youth level. They are captained by over age player, central defender Bartol Franjic.

Left Winger Antonio Marin has featured in the first team, while fellow Under 21 international, defender Josko Gvardiol has been knocking on the door.

Atletico Madrid

Top two in the group were clear but with Atletico losing to Juventus twice they had to settle for second. The squad is made up of in the main Spanish players with a couple of Venezuelans. With Spain being one of the big football powers youth Internationalists are more spread across clubs but this Atletico squad have a few.

They had nine different goalscorers in the group games with only Rodrigo Riquelme and Alberto Salido scoring two. They are captained by winger Cedric Teguia a Spanish Under 20 international. Where as none of the squad have featured in the first team quite a few have played for Atletico Madrid B who play in the Spanish third tier.

Red Bull Salzburg

Finished second in Group E to Liverpool who they lost to twice, but two big wins over Napoli and a win and a draw against Genk saw them qualify. They have cast the net wide recruiting players from across Europe and Brazil. They scored a few goals in the group but it did include twelve against Napoli, with Croatian Youth International Luka Sucic leading the way with four. They are captained by goalkeeper Daniel Antosh.

The squad includes youth internationals from Brazil, Switzerland, Bosnia and Hungary to name a few. Significant transfer fees have been paid for  Maurits Kjaergaard (Lyngby), Karim Adeyemi (Unterhaching) and Benjamin Sesko (NK Domzale). The have a few players in the first team squad that are eligible as over age players, including highly rated Erling Haaland, although none of these players will feature.

Where as none of the UEFA Youth League squad have featured in the first team virtually all of them play for the feeder club FC Liefering who compete in the second tier of Austrian football.

Broussia Dortmund

Missed out on top place on the head to head with Inter Milan, secured qualification with a big win over Slavia Prague in the final game in a group where Barcelona finished bottom. Exchanged wins with both Inter Milan and Slavia Prague and beat Barcelona home and away.

There is a Rangers connection to their joint top scorer from the groups, Giovanni Reyna, son of former ‘Ger Claudio. He is on four goals along with Youssoufa Moukoko who is still an Under 16 player. They are captained by Tobias Raschi a midfielder and one of the over age players and has featured for Broussia Dortmund II who play in Regionalliga West.

The squad is loaded with German youth internationals and one or two from other nations. England International Jadon Sancho would be eligible to play as an over age player but I wouldn’t turn up with my autograph book.

Olympique Lyonnais

Top two in this group was pretty clear with a defeat in St.Petersburg at the hands of Zenit allowing Benfica who they exchanged wins with to top the group. A home win against the Russians and the double over RB Leipzig saw them clear in second place.

The group stages would suggest that attacking midfielder Rayan Cherki and striker El Hadj Coly would be the danger men. Again captained by an over age player, France Under 20 international full-back Pierre Kalulu.

Like the other potential opponents their squad is packed with youth internationals, including a Belgian, Turkish as well as the expected French. The aforementioned Rayan Cherki has featured in Ligue 1 and along with striker Amine Gouiri have made cameos from the bench in the Champions League.

LOSC Lille

The final possibility is another French club in Lille, who finished above both Chelsea and Valencia, to finish a point behind Ajax. The lost both games against the Dutch side and won both games against the Spaniards. A home win against Chelsea meant they had already qualified when they drew with the London side in the final game.

They only scored seven goals in qualifying with Fadiga Ouattara grabbing four of them. They are captained by defensive midfielder Cheikh Niasse, again an Under 20 player.

The weakest team in terms of youth internationals with a handful capped for France and one each with Turkey and Belgium. Although 18 year old midfielder Aguibou Camara has one full cap for Guinea. Former Celtic loanee Timothy Weah is part of the first team squad and as he was born in 2000 he would be eligible as an over age player.

Two Games Survive The Weather

December 10, 2019

I was surprised as anyone when both this afternoon’s Development/Reserve game against Brentford and this evening’s Under 16 game against Celtic survived the heavy rain to go ahead.

Rangers 4 Brentford 0

It was a strong Rangers starting lineup that took the field for the noon kick-off against Brentford and it provided the basis for a comfortable win.

Rangers were first to threaten on six minutes, Jamie Murphy’s cross from the right was met by Jordan Jones at the back post but was diverted wide by Patrik Gunnarsson. Rangers took the lead on twenty four minutes, the ball was played out to Nathan Patterson on the right and his cross was nodded past Patrik Gunnarsson by Luca Racic for an Own Goal.

Just after the half hour mark only a brilliant Rhys Breen goal line clearance kept Rangers lead intact. Nick Tsaroulla passed to Joe Adams who cut into the left side of the box, his shot beat Kieran Wright but the Rangers central defender got back to clear. Within two minutes Rangers doubled their lead from the penalty spot. The ball was played out to Greg Stewart on the left when he cut into the box he was tripped by Arthur Read and got up to convert from the spot.

Six minutes before the break Kieran Wright was called into action when he dived to his left to touch Fredrik Hammer’s shot wide.

Half-Time:- Rangers 2 Brentford 0

Rangers had an early chance after the break, Andy King chipped the ball over a defender to Jamie Barjonas inside the left side of the box, he flicked the ball past a defender but shot wide of the far post. Rangers third goal came eight minutes into the second half, following a free-kick the ball ended up with Jordan Jones on the left and close to the byline, his cross to the back post was headed into the net by Rhys Breen.

Just before the hour mark Kieran Wright saved Arthur  Read’s shot diving to his left and Matthew Shiels got to the rebound just before Jaden Brissett to clear for a corner. Brentford pushed in the final ten minutes and Kieran Wright produced another fine save from a powerful Gustav Mogensen strike.

The visitor’s then looked to have a decent shout for a penalty when David Titov was caught on the right hand byline inside the box. Rangers then completed the scoring when a superb Greg Docherty through ball sent Dapo Mebude through to shoot past the keeper.

Full-Time:- Rangers 4 Brentford 0

Rangers:- Kieran Wright; Nathan Patterson (Zac Butterworth 70 mins), Lewis Mayo, Rhys Breen, Matthew Shiels; Andy King; Greg Docherty, Jamie Barjonas; Jamie Murphy, Greg Stewart ( Dapo Mebude HT), Jordan Jones (James Maxwell 63 mins).

Not Used:- Jay Hogarth (Gk), Danny Finlayson, Ben Williamson, Ciaran Dickson.

Brentford:- Patrik Gunnarsson; Nick Tsaroulla, Kane O’Connor, Luca Racic, Arthur Read, Joe Adams, Fredrik Hammer (Julian Carre 87 mins), Jaden Brissett (Matej Majka 59 mins), Gustav Mogensen, David Titov, Jaakko Oksanen (Jonny Mitchell 51 mins)

Not Used:- Simon Andersson (Gk), Aubrel Koutismouka.


Rangers 2 Celtic 1

After receiving the trophy as Under 16’s league winners Rangers made it two wins over Celtic with a hard fought win at The Hummel Training Centre tonight. With the squad still stretched by injuries Rangers took the option of fielding two over age players, but the three subs used were two U 15’s and an U14. 

Celtic took the lead after only a couple of minutes, Ben Doak attacked on the right and when his cross arrived at Barry Hepburn a good touch set him up to shoot high past Jack McConnell. Rangers weren’t behind for long and when Ben McPherson brought down Dire Mebude inside the left side of the box Robbie Ure sent Joe Morrison the wrong way from the spot.

Rangers were in front around the quarter hour mark, Leyton Dunlop worked his way across the penalty area from the left going past two defenders and teeing up Robbie Fraser to shoot into the keeper’s bottom left hand corner. Rangers had the better of the early stages of the half with Celtic getting stronger as the half went on. A minute before the break Dire Mebude latched on to a long ball, held off a defender but shot wide of the keeper’s left hand post.

Half-Time:- Rangers 2 Celtic 1

Celtic came close early in the second half, Ben Doak getting to the right hand byline with Barry Hepburn firing over from the edge of the six yard box. The second half was in the main played in Rangers territory but Jack McConnell never had to make a serious save.

Rangers were a threat on the break as they defended comfortably. It was a couple of minutes into injury time when Frankie Deane shot from around twenty five yards which Jack McConnell saved easily.

Full-Time:- Rangers 2 Celtic 1

Rangers:- Jack McConnell; Jack Harkness, Connor Allan, Logan Dunachie (Adam Forrester 51 mins), Matthew Henderson; Robbie Fraser; Mackenzie Strachan, Gavin Gallagher (Kerr Robertson 41 mins); Leyton Dunlop (Rory Wilson 75 mins),Robbie Ure,  Dire Mebude.

Celtic:- Joe Morrison; Ben McPherson, Joe Murphy, Dylan Corr, Matthew Anderson; Mackenzie Carse (Frankie Deane), Tsoanelo Letsosa; Ben Summers (Tom Martin); Ben Doak, Adam Brooks, Barry Hepburn.


Busy Youth Weekend

December 8, 2019

This weekend provided the opportunity to take in four youth games before heading to Hampden for Sunday’s League Cup Final. It all started on Friday with the Under 18’s trip to Dingwall for the Youth Cup tie against Ross County. A Saturday doubled header at the Hummel Training Centre followed, with the Under 13’s taking on Celtic in the morning followed by the Under 16’s clash with Aberdeen in the afternoon. The final game was on Sunday morning as the Under 14’s travelled to Barrowfield for their meeting with Celtic.

Ross County 1 Rangers 4

Friday was my second trip north in three days following the first team’s visit to Aberdeen on Wednesday and it was ultimately a comfortable passage to the next round for the Under 18’s despite a slow and possibly complacent start that saw them fall behind.

Rangers spurned a few early chances to take the lead, the first coming on two minutes. Robbie Fraser passed in from the left to Cole McKinnon whose initial shot was blocked and his effort from the rebound was touched wide of his left hand post by Jamie Stephen. A few minutes later some good interplay on the left from Robbie Fraser, Chris McKee and Kane Ritchie-Hosler teed up a shooting chance for Cole McKinnon just inside the box but he fired over.

Rangers next chance came when Kyle McClelland passed to Robbie Fraser wide on the left and his cross was was headed just over by Cole McKinnon. Rangers were stung on fourteen minutes when the home side took the lead, a slack Robbie Fraser pass was collected by Matthew Wright who sent Dylan Lawrence clear inside the box and he shot past Jay Hogarth.

With the midpoint of the half approaching Kane Ritchie-Hosler cut in from the left, he shot was destined for the net till Josh Reid cleared from the line. Rangers next chance came just before the half hour from a quick break following a Ross County corner, Alex Lowry’s pass sent Robbie Fraser clear and into the right side of the penalty area but he screwed his shot into the side netting.

The equaliser came on thirty three minutes, Kane Ritchie-Hosler cutting in from the left and shooting across Jamie Stephen and into the far corner. Five minutes before the break a cross was headed from the Ross County box which Cole McKinnon met on the volley forcing Jamie Stephen to save low to his right.

Rangers took the lead three minutes before the break from an Arron Lyall solo effort, breaking from halfway he left two defenders in his wake before placing a shot into Jamie Stephen’s bottom left hand corner from the edge of the box.

Half-Time:- Ross County 1 Rangers 2

Rangers had a great start to the second half adding a third in the opening minute, Alex Lowry provided the pass inside Thomas Brady and Robbie Fraser did really well to get a cross in before the ball crossed the byline from which Chris McKee glanced a header past the keeper. The next chance came when Murray Miller passed to Robbie Fraser on the left, he went past a defender before cutting the ball back for Chris McKee who was a bit casual with his finish allowing Jamie Stephen to make the save.

A minute later a mishit Alex Lowry corner from the left arrived low at the near post which the keeper fumbled and Harris O’Connor somehow shot wide of the far post. With twenty-five minutes remaining Kyle McClelland rose to meet an Alex Lowry corner from the left but headed just wide of the far post.

Rangers were now creating chances on a regular basis and when Julian Anderson teed up Arron Lyall inside the right side of the box  Jamie Stephen dived to his right to parry. The game had entered the final twenty minutes when Rangers scored a fourth, the Ibrox youngsters were probing on the edge of the box and when the ball broke to Murray Miller he beat the keeper from around twenty-five yards.

The home side almost pulled a goal back a couple of minutes later, Josh Reid breaking deep into the left side of Rangers penalty area with Jay Hogarth diverting his shot onto his near post. Rangers had a couple of opportunities to add to their tally before the end, Matthew Henderson passed to Ross McCausland on the left and he cut into the box past a defender before firing a shot off the keeper’s left hand post. Then Ross McCausland fed Matthew Henderson on the left and from his low cross Julian Anderson was denied by a stunning point blank save from Jamie Stephen.

Full-Time:- Ross County 1 Rangers 4

Ross County:- Jamie Stephen; Thomas Brady, Ben Williamson, Harvey Kane, Josh Reid; Adam Mackinnon, Reece Riddell (Riley Mackenzie 70 mins); Dylan Lawrence (Harvey Henderson 85 mins), Craig Mackenzie, James Graham; Matthew Wright.

Not Used:- Logan Ross (Gk)

Rangers:- Jay Hogarth; Harris O’Connor, Lewis Mackinnon, Kyle McClelland, Robbie Fraser (Matthew Henderson 55 mins); Cole McKinnon, Murray Miller; Alex Lowry (Julian Anderson 66 mins); Arron Lyall, Chris McKee (Ross McCausland 75 mins), Kane Ritchie-Hosler.

Not Used:- Jacob Pazikas (Gk), Ryan Muir, Umaro Balde, Matty Yates.

Rangers 2 Celtic 3

In Saturday morning’s under 13 clash Celtic took the lead on eight minutes, an attack and cross from the right had Alfiel Halliwell stretching and well the ball broke loose it was nodded into the net. Midway through the half Celtic attacked on the left and when the cross came in Alfie Halliwell produced a brave save at the striker’s feet.

A couple of minutes later Rangers drew level, the attack came into the right side of the box with Chris Eadie providing the pass for Josh Gentles to spin and shoot past the keeper. Celtic missed a great opportunity to regain the lead right at the end of the first period, Alfie Halliwell dived to his left to parry a shot from the edge of the box and with the goal at his mercy the Celtic striker shot over from the rebound.

Rangers had the first chance of the second period, Harry Weir passing to Lewis Stewart on the right, his cross into the box broke off a defender back to Harry Weir but he shot into the side netting. Rangers took the lead seven minutes before the end of the second period, Arran Kerr providing the cross from the right for Chris Eadie to volley past the keeper at the far post.

The sides were level five minutes into the final period, a free-kick from the right broke to an unmarked player around the penalty spot and he shot into the net. The game turned on a bizarre incident on seventy two minutes. A Rangers corner from the left was headed against the inside of the far post rolled across goal and off the other post. With the Rangers players claiming the ball had crossed the line the referee awarded a goal. With the teams lined up for the restart kickoff a Celtic coach walked into the centre circle and after a discussion with the referee the goal was disallowed. 

It would appear he was informing the referee that the recording of the incident by a Rangers analyst on the scaffolding gantry indicated the ball hadn’t crossed the line. First use of VAR in Scotland ?

A couple of minutes later Celtic edged ahead when Rangers struggled to clear a corner from the left and the ball was forced over the line at close range. No review of any other goal in the game took place.

Full-Time:- Rangers 2 Celtic 3

Rangers Squad:- Alfie Halliwell (Gk), Greig Thackray (Gk), Jace McCulloch, Leo Fisher, Connor Campbell, Duncan Barlow, Grant Leitch, Callum Adamson, Lewis Stewart, Chris Eadie, Josh Gentles, Jayden Fitzpatrick, Arran Kerr, Harry Weir, Lyall Wark

Rangers 0 Aberdeen 0 

The afternoon’s Under 16’s game saw an entertaining goalless draw that could have gone either way. Rangers squad was stretched with injuries and illness, three Under 15’s started with another two on the bench. The Aberdeen squad included one Under 15 and the two Under 17’s allowed.

Aberdeen had the ball in the net in the opening minutes through Corey Gerrard but was correctly ruled offside. The visitors again came close when Finn Yeats broke to the edge of the box with Jack McConnell saving the shot and reacting quickly to make it a double save from Jake Buirds effort from the rebound.

Just after the midpoint of the half Finn Yeats passed to Ryan Duncan inside the left side of the box and he forced a save from Jack McConnell at his near post. Rangers then had a period of pressure and when Connor Allan passed to Robbie Ure his powerful shot was beaten away by Finlay Hyslop.

A minute later Zak Queen and Robbie Ure combined to setup a shooting chance on the edge of the box for Leyton Dunlop that Finlay Hyslop saved low to his right. Three minutes before the break Connor Allan went past two defenders before shooting straight at Finlay Hyslop.

Half-Time:- Rangers 0 Aberdeen 0

Rangers started the second half on the front foot and Connor Allan exchanged passes with Leyton Dunlop he broke into the right side of the box and forced a save from Finlay Hyslop. The keeper was soon called into action again, saving a Leyton Dunlop shot from inside the box.

Aberdeen missed a great chance just after the hour, a slack pass across the defence allowed Ryan Duncan to race clear but he shot wide of Jack McConnell’s left hand post. Rangers were soon back on the attack and Connor Allan won possession and played a one-two with Robbie Ure to break into the right side of the box and shoot just wide of the far post.

The final quarter hour was approaching when a fine passing move ended with Connor Allan shooting just wide of the keeper’s left hand post from the edge of the box. Aberdeen then missed a great chance with eight minutes remaining, they attacked into the left side of the box and when the ball broke to Jake Buirds right in front of goal on the edge of the six yard box he shot wide of Jack McConnell’s right hand post.

Rangers came close to winning the game right at the death, Robbie Ure fed Leyton Dunlop inside the right side of the box, his shot beat the keeper but bounced off the inside of the far post with Finlay Hyslop blocking Robbie Ure’s attempt to force the rebound over the line.

Full-Time:- Rangers 0 Aberdeen 0

Rangers:- Jack McConnell; Zak McKay, Adam Forrester, Logan Dunachie, Jack Harkness; Mackenzie Strachan; Gavin Gallagher (Jamie Newton 75 mins), Connor Allan; Leyton Dunlop, Robbie Ure, Zak Queen (Callum Sandilands 66 mins).

Aberdeen:- Finlay Hyslop; Jack Milne, Connor Grant, Finlay Murray; Correy Gerrard, Jack McIver, Finn Yeats, Evan Towler; Jake Buirds, Ryan Duncan; Andrew Buchan (Tom Findlay 60 mins)

Not Used:-  Calum Nicol

Celtic 5 Rangers 0

Sunday morning was a tough day for Rangers Under 14’s at Barrowfield against their much bigger and stronger opponents. Celtic fielded two Under 15’s who were bigger than the entire Rangers team. Rangers fielded one U15 who was the smallest player on the pitch and two Under 13’s.

The adverse weather conditions meant any note taking was impossible but with Rangers failing to record a decent shot on goal I only have to remember the games goals. But for a few decent saves from Rangers goalkeepers Sam Kane and Evan Anderson the defeat would have been heavier.

The first goal came when the striker was played through the inside left channel and he rounded the keeper and found the net via the far post. The second goal came from a free-kick wide on the left hand touchline that was headed in at the back post.

Right at the end of the second period Celtic scored a third, it was another header, this time from a right wing cross. A quick break where Celtic had two one and a pass releasing the attacker inside the left side of the box to shoot into the net.

The scoring was completed in the final minute, an attack deep inside the right side of Rangers box and a shot across goal knocked in at at the back post.

Full-Time:- Celtic 5 Rangers 0

Rangers Squad:- Sam Kane (Gk), Evan Anderson (Gk), Zander Hutton, Jack Wylie, Rocco Friel, Dylan Brown, Sean Phinn, Kerr Robertson, Crispin McLean, Finlay Curtis, Rory Wilson, Elliot Dunlop, Cooper Knox, Ethan Sutherland, Chris Eadie.

Under 16’s Clinch League Title

December 3, 2019

Rangers 5 Hamilton Accies 0

Rangers 2004’s (U16’s) secured the point they required to win the league with two games to spare, a comfortable win over Hamilton Accies took them over the line. With six players unavailable Rangers utilised the allowed option of fielding two Under 17’s, this was balanced out with two Under 15’s starting, another two on the bench along with an Under 14.

Rangers came close to taking the lead before the ten minute mark, Connor Allan progressed on the right hand byline before cutting the ball back to Leyton Dunlop whose shot was blocked on the line. Five minutes later they were more successful, Robbie Ure exchanged passes with Gavin Gallagher, his shot from the edge of the box forced a fine save from the keeper low to his left but Leyton Dunlop followed up to fire the rebound into the net.

On twenty minutes Connor Allan again made the byline on the right, he passed inside to Robbie Ure who laid the ball back to Leyton Dunlop and his shot was saved by the keeper to his right. Hamilton threatened five minutes later with an attack that took them into the left side of Rangers penalty area with Jack McConnell standing up to block the shot with foot.

Rangers were immediately back on the attack and when Robbie Fraser’s through ball sent Robbie Ure through he tried to dink the ball past the keeper who was alert and made the save. 

Half-Time:- Rangers 1 Hamilton Accies 0

Rangers first chance of the second half came five minutes after the break, Mackenzie Strachan passed to Leyton Dunlop whose shot from the edge of the box and left of centre was tipped over. Within a minute Rangers doubled their lead, Robbie Fraser crossed from the left and when the ball fell to Matthew Henderson around the penalty spot he shot past the keeper.

Within a couple of minutes Rangers scored again, this time from the penalty spot. Gavin Gallagher provided the through ball and Robbie Ure was fouled inside the box in the act of shooting, before sending the keeper the wrong way from the spot. Rangers next chance came when Connor Allan broke forward from the back and passed to Gavin Gallagher whose through ball released Rory Wilson inside the left side of the box but he shot straight at the keeper.

The final quarter hour was approaching  when Jack Harkness broke down the right, his cross was met on the volley by Rory Wilson which the keeper parried with the Rangers striker volleying the rebound just over. A minute later the ball was moved from Gavin Gallagher through Leyton Dunlop to Jack Harkness on the right, his low cross was converted at close range by thirteen year old Rory Wilson. 

The visitors threatened with a shot from around twenty-five yards that Jack McConnell turned wide of his right hand post diving low to his right. Rangers were soon back on attack and when Leyton Dunlop passed inside from the right to Rory Wilson his shot was cleared from the line.

Rangers fifth came with a couple of minutes remaining and it was a carbon copy of the fourth, Jack Harkness providing the right wing cross and Rory Wilson applying the close range finish.

Full-Time:- Rangers 5 Hamilton Accies 0

Rangers:- Jack McConnell; Zak McKay (Rory Wilson 37 mins), Adam Forrester, Jack Harkness, Matthew Henderson; Mackenzie Strachan (Callum Sandilands 68 mins), Robbie Fraser; Connor Allan; Leyton Dunlop, Robbie Ure (Zak Queen 68 mins), Gavin Gallagher.

Not Used- Scott Cowie (Gk)