TWO goals from Scotland striker Chris Martin consigned Rangers to defeat against Derby County at the iPro Stadium this afternoon, in the Ibrox side’s final pre-season friendly.
Rangers made a promising start, cheered on by 8,576 supporters in the 17,860-strong crowd, but it was Derby who threatened first, Simon Dawkins latching onto a weak passback from Darren McGregor before attempting to round Cammy Bell.
However, the ‘keeper did enough to thwart the Jamaican international before Bilel Mohsni cleared the ball for a corner.
Jeff Hendrick found the side netting while ex-Dundee United striker Johnny Russell fired a free-kick just over as the Rams pushed for the opening goal.
Rangers’ best chance in the first half fell to Fraser Aird, making a comeback after injury kept him out of the North American tour.
Kenny Miller’s pass following good work from Lee Wallace and Lewis Macleod on the left was met by Aird, whose header drifted just wide of the post when it looked easier to score.
McGregor then had a couple of half-chances, heading straight at Lee Grant in the Derby goal before firing a shot wide.
Dawkins hit the post just shy of the hour mark after Lee Naylor’s through ball, and he played a key role in the opening goal, drawing Bell out of his goal before clipping the ball to Martin who finished into the empty net from 10 yards out.
And Martin grabbed his, and Derby’s second after 72 minutes, slotting the ball past Bell after good work from England Under-21 international Will Hughes.
Moments later Martin was involved in an off-the-ball incident with Mohsni, who was shown a straight red card by referee Mark Heywood.
The Tunisian appeared to dive head-first into Martin and was promptly given his marching orders, to the obvious chagrin of manager Ally McCoist, who blanked the player as he left the pitch.
After that flashpoint, Derby were content to keep the ball as an entertaining friendly petered out.
Derby: Grant, Christie, Forsyth, Bryson, L Naylor, Keogh, Dawkins, Hendrick, Martin (Sammon 75), Hughes, Russell (Ward 69). Subs not used: Roos, Eustace, Bennett, Hanson, Bunjaku, Freeman, Calero, Santos.
Rangers: Bell; McGregor, McCulloch, Mohsni, Wallace (Templeton 68); Hutton (Boyd 60), Black; Macleod, Law, Aird (Smith 60); Miller (Zaliukas 75). Subs not used: Simonsen, Crawford, Shiels, Gallagher.