A STRONG-LOOKING Rangers side warmed up for life in the Third Division with a comfortable victory over Albion Rovers on Saturday.
Scotland cap Neil Alexander was in goal for the closed-doors match at Murray Park and Rangers had other internationalists in their line-up with Carlos Bocanegra, Kirk Broadfoot and Dorin Goian all starting in defence, Maurice Edu and Alejandra Bedoya in midfield, and Lee McCulloch leading their attack. Barrie McKay scored twice for the Ibrox side, McCulloch converted a penalty and Bedoya and Edu also found the net, with Coatbridge trialist Kieran Brannan scoring through a spot-kick when his side were three down.
Despite the defeat, Rovers manager Todd Lumsden was perhaps the happiest man at Murray Park because his side had been given an unexpected workout by a near full-strength Rangers side.
The recently-appointed Coatbridge manager spent a nervous few days last week after being told that a vital game in his side’s pre-season training programme against Rangers’ under-20 side was off and then on again as uncertainty over the club’s SFA licence and ability to play games away from a closed-door environment rumbled on.
Lumsden finally found out late on Friday that it was game on, with no fans in attendance. However there was a sting in the tail when Rangers lined up, as it was not a youth side Albion were to face but probably the strongest line-up the Ibrox club could put out.
One-time Ibrox youngster Jason Crooks hit a post as Rovers had their moments and Lumsden was upbeat despite the final score.
“First of all I am really glad that we got a game after a bit of uncertainty. The scoreline looks harsh but in reality it was a Second Division side against a team made up of mostly internationalists,” he explained. “We did okay in patches but what was more important was that our players got a tough 90 minutes under their belt ahead of playing Morton next Saturday. They certainly got a great workout and despite the result I am really pleased with how the game went.
“Maurice Edu scored right at the end and 5-1 always sounds a lot worse than 4-1 so we can move on quite easily.”
Ironically Rovers head to Govan tomorrow night for the final game in their pre-season build up, however it is not Ibrox they are gracing but the nearby McKenna Park, where they take on Junior side St Anthony’s.