Rangers' highly-rated star wins Scottish Youth Cup with stunning strike despite Hearts revival

Rangers are looking to be at the forefront of youth development and innovation in Scottish football – and there are positive signs after winning their eighth Scottish Youth Cup final, defeating Hearts 2-1 at Hampden Park.

Nathan Patterson has already fetched the club a large fee with his January move to Everton. Billy Gilmour was picked up by Chelsea as a teenager. The latest promising academy talents Alex Lowry and Leon King have gained first-team experience this season.

In front of 2,268 at Mount Florida, there was evidence, under the tutelage of coach Cameron Campbell, that there are others with promise coming through the ranks.

One of those is Rory Wilson. The 16-year-old, unsurprisingly, has attracted interest from England. He has been in fine form for club and country and scored his side’s second with a well struck volley from a Kevin Ciubotoru clipped ball over the head of Hearts captain Callum Flatman on the stroke of half-time.

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Liam McFarlane, the Tynecastle side's goalkeeper, had been the man of the match until that point but the pace on the ball was too much.

The final will have been of great interest to clubs south of the border. English sides are increasingly taking on the role of vultures, looking to Scotland to cherry-pick the best talent.

Wilson is one of those. On the morning of the game, there was speculation linking Aston Villa with a move for Hearts’ 15-year-old starlet Ewan Simpson who took his place in the midfield for Steven Nasimith’s side.

You could hardly have a greater contrast between the two coaches. One, a former Scotland international and title winner with Rangers, the other, a 30-year-old who has coached in Ghana and Denmark after a youth career with Elgin City. Campbell has been recruited to help implement different ideas and curate players ready for first-team football, whether it is at Ibrox or elsewhere.

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Rangers ace Rory Wilson makes it 2-0 in the Scottish Youth Cup final against Hearts with a fierce volley. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Naismith is just the same on the sidelines as he was on the pitch. Cajoling, supporting, demanding. A water bottle fired into the advertising hoarding when Mackenzie Kirk lost possession summed up large parts of Hearts' first-half performance.

In the first 11 minutes McFarlane, with Hearts No.1 Craig Gordon watching on, was forced into four saves from Wilson and strike partner Robbie Ure, not helped by some slack defending.

Despite the vibrancy of Darren McInally and Charlie Lindsay in midfield for Rangers it took them 34 minutes to open the scoring. A corner fell to McInally who fired confidently past McFarlane.

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Hearts, who tested Jack McConnell just once in the first half, were a different side after the break, pushing Rangers back, aided by the introduction of the lively Murray Thomas. Naismith’s side were able to get higher up the pitch, closer to their opponents and make it more difficult for them.

Hearts and Rangers walk out for the Youth Cup Final at Hampden Park. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Maccauley Tait in the midfield became more instrumental, but it was substitute Thomas who set up a grandstand finish with a brilliant finish from just inside the box after getting the better of Rangers captain Mackenzie Strachan.

Each sub appeared to give Hearts an extra bit of intensity as they pushed and pushed but ultimately ran out of time as Rangers hung on to lift the trophy.

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Rangers: McConnell; Harkness, Allan, Allen, Ciubotaru; McInally (Dunlop 75’), Strachan, Lindsay; Ure, Wilson (Roberts 90’), Pasnik (Graham 70’).

Hearts: McFarlane; Aitken, Flatman, Rathie; Friel (Ross 66’), Tait, Simpson, Pollock, McCluckie; Sandilands (Thomas 46’); Kirk (Wilson 76’).

Att: 2,268

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