Rangers have lifted the Scottish FA Youth Cup for the first time in five years after an enthralling 3-2 win over Celtic at Hampden.
David McCallum’s side looked the hungrier of the two sides and put in a fantastic performance which resulted in an absolutely gripping contest at the national stadium.
Nathan Young-Coombes had the first real chance of the game after just three minutes when patient play by the Gers resulted in Dapo Mebude finding some space and picking out the Englishman but his shot was deflected wide.
Just two minutes later Ciaran Dickson opened the scoring with a fantastic effort from the edge of the area.
The Gers midfielder was found with a lovely pass from a corner before taking a touch to compose himself then sweeping the ball home with ease.
It was 2-0 almost instantly as the Gers surged into an early lead when Dapo Mebude fired beyond the Celtic keeper and send the Light Blues into a commanding position.
With a 2-0 lead after only six minutes, Celtic were shellshocked and McCallum’s side dominated possession for long spells of the opening half hour.
There was a shout for a penalty from Celtic after 35 minutes but there was very little in it and the referee appeared to make the right call.
Josh McPake had the best chance to make it 3-0 when he drove inside from the left flank and fired across goal but couldn’t quite get his shot on target.
The second-half started in a similar vein to the first – only this time it was Celtic pushing forward with Cameron Harper pulling a goal back for Stephen McManus’ side.
Seconds later it was all square again as Paul Kennedy’s deflected free-kick somehow found its way into the back of the net.
McPake found himself with another chance to get his name on the scoresheet as he burst forward from midfield and shot from distance but saw his shot well held.
Losing two quick goals didn’t seem to faze Rangers any and McCallum’s side continued to push forward in search for a third goal.
McPake tried his luck again and Celtic had keeper Liam Hughes to thank for keeping them level when he pulled off a fantastic save from the Gers ace.
The Gers finally got their reward when Young-Coombes powerfully headed home a free-kick and restored Rangers’ lead.
It should’ve been 4-2 and game over when Dapo Mebude won a penalty but Kai Kennedy’s effort was well saved by Hughes to keep Celtic in the game.
Celtic thought they’d levelled it with just two minutes left on the clock when Harper headed home only for the linesman to flag for the ball going out of play in the build-up.
The young Gers managed to hold on however and secured yet another Academy success for the club.
Here we rate how David McCallum’s side performed at Hampden against Celtic:
Lewis Budinauckas – 7
Forced into making a couple of really good saves in the first 45 but didn’t have a massive amount to do before the break. Couldn’t do much with Harper’s goal as Celtic tried to find their way back into the game. Should have done better with Celtic’s equaliser though.
Nathan Patterson – 7
Right-back worked hard and done well to cover when Celtic tried to push forward in search for a lifeline. Looked really impressive when he pushed forward and helped keep Celtic pinned back at times.
James Maxwell – 7
Picked up the first booking of the game after a late challenge on Karamoko Dembele. Pushed well down the left and linked well with McPake as the Gers. Replaced by Zak Butterworth shortly after Rangers went 3-2 up.
Ben Williamson – 6
Unspectacular performance from the midfielder but he barely put a foot wrong in the middle of the park. Used the ball really well and closed the gaps in midfield to allow others to push forward. A great driving run from midfield gave him a chance at goal but couldn’t finish.
Danny Finlayson – 7
The defender showed fantastic passing range as well as a really impressive command of his defence as he led the Gers backline expertly.
Kyle McClelland – 6
Had a big hand in the second goal and looked composed throughout. Rarely tested and more than capable of dealing with everything Celtic threw at him.
Dapo Mebude – 7
Lots of focus on the much-hyped youngster and fired the Gers into a 2-0 lead. Caused all sorts of problems for the Celtic defence and won a penalty
Ciaran Dickson – 7
Fantastic finish opened the scoring and the Gers midfielder showed great technique to sweep the ball home from the edge of the area. Used the ball intelligently and dictated the tempo for the Gers.
Nathan Young-Coombes – 8
Forward tried to pick his way through Celtic’s defence and had varying degrees of success. Former Chelsea kid looks to have a massive future ahead of him. Quieter in the second half before grabbing Rangers’ third goal.
Kai Kennedy – 7
Kennedy struggled to influence the game as much as he will have wanted in the early stages but worked hard and kept trying to make things happen for the Gers. Missed a penalty in the second half.
Josh McPake – 9
Always trying to get on the ball and clear to see why he won the club’s Academy Player of the Year award this season. Central to everything Rangers done and looks to be a real talent. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him given a seat on the bench for the first-team before the end of the season.
Substitutes: Zak Butterworth (6), Kieran McKechnie (6), Joao Balde (N/A)