It was certainly hard going for Shire against Rangers, as it was always going to be. And despite a 3-0 reverse in our second Betfred Cup Group F game there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game.
As a learning experience there is little doubt that the Shire players will take plenty of valuable lessons from having to try and match, as best they could, some of Scotland’s top professional players.
And if it was some pre-season running the boys wanted then they certainly got plenty of that.
Shire had a clear priority; to get off to a good positive start. But the pace, athleticism and ability of the Rangers team was evident from the start and the extent of the task set soon became apparent.
Sadly the hoped for start did not materialise. Barrie McKay tried to wriggle clear of the Shire defence inside the box after just nine minutes and ended up on the floor after a spot of arm wrestling with Ross Fisher.
That was enough for referee Campbell Allan to point to the penalty spt, and although Darren Dolan went the right way and came close to a powerful penalty he could do nothing to stop the ball entering the net.
But the floodgates did not open. Dolan made a couple of good saves, one in particular from Josh Windass, Fisher cleared a net bound effort off the line and some of Rangers’ shooting was wayward.
At the other end, Connor Hogg, a late replacement for Jamie Glasgow, who pulled out in the pre-match warm-up, made good progress down the right and would have found David Grant in the middle but for an outstretched Rangers boot.
After 34 minutes McKay sent over a great ball from the left and Windass used his strength to out-muscle Adam Murray and collect the centre to tap-in the second Rangers goal at the back post.
Shire did not wilt after the break. In fact they seemed to get stronger and although that led to more possession and a couple of half chances for David Grant, the Rangers back line always managed to clear.
After 65 minutes Grant got in behind only to see his shot blocked. The rebound fell to Graeme MacGregor but his effort went just over the bar.
Gavin McMillan saw a clear sight of goal but his half chance came to nothing.
At the other end Dolan made a decent save from a long-range effort but otherwise Rangers’ attempts at goal were off-target.
In the first minute of injury-time Lee Wallace crossed from the left and Rangers substitute Joe Dodoo slid in to score their third goal.
SHIRE : Dolan, Greene, Murray, A. Grant, Fisher, MacGregor(Comrie 65), McGuigan, Ure, Faulds, D. Grant(McMillan 71), Hogg(White 81).
RANGERS : Gilks, Hill, Wallace, Wilson, Miller, McKay, Windass(Kranjcar 46), Forrester(Thompson 64), Halliday, Hodson, O’Halloran(Dodoo 59).
REFEREE : C. Allan.