Graham Potter fielded an alternative XI after half-time, but the Rangers manager opted against the sort of wholesale line-up changes that disrupt these friendlies, staggering substitutions throughout the scoreless draw with one eye on competitive action returning in a week and another on 90 minutes against Real Madrid tomorrow.
It was a gradual increase in game-time for many of the less frequent selections in Gerrard’s squad, another chance to re-acquaint themselves with a replenished Ibrox and chance for new signings to introduce themselves to the home crowd. John Lundstram almost did so by thumping a 62nd minute drive off the post after coming on as a second-half substitute.
The Brighton goalmouth had already been the busier of the two with new Seagulls signing Kjell Scherpen denying Scott Wright and Jordan Jones, and having his blushes spared after an early mishap allowed Cedric Itten a shot at an empty goal, but it was cleared off the line by Shane Duffy – a focal point of the first half.
For Kieran Tierney last week, read Duffy this week – only several times as noisy. The increased Ibrox attendance allowance meant the crowd was significantly more audible in sarcastically cheering his every touch and reminding last season’s Celtic defender of their championship win.
The fans, relieved at finally being back inside the ground again, had a ball in their delayed celebrations of last season’s title, and cheered by the comfortable on-field action, the atmosphere felt more like a football stadium again after last season’s eerie emptiness.
Joining them back at Ibrox after an absence almost as long, was Niko Katic. The Croatian defender missed the championship-winning season with an ACL injury and was given his first appearance back after the interval.
So too was new signing Fashion Sakala Jr for the last half hour, alongside regular contributors like Steven Davis, Connor Goldson and James Tavernier. As sunshine bathed the southside of Glasgow they saw out the penultimate summer game against the Seagulls. Tomorrow it’s the Spaniards and superstars of Real Madrid, and then the serious stuff begins.