Rangers under-19s suffered a heart-breaking ending to their debut in the UEFA Youth League as they conceded an injury-time equaliser to draw 3-3 with Young Boys in Switzerland.
Graeme Murty’s side featured a handful of names that will be familiar to many Gers fans after last season’s league and cup double as they made a little bit of history at Sportpark Wyler in Berne.
With the two sides also meeting at first-team level in the Europa League later tonight, fans were hopeful the young team could record the first of two wins for the Gers in Berne in a matter of hours.
The Gers made a bright start with Kai Kennedy causing problems for the hosts and having an early effort miss the target after a fantastic run by the Scotland youth international as well a free-kick comfortably held by the keeper as the Light Blues looked to take an early lead.
Murty’s side continued to push forward looking for the opener and Nathan Young-Coombes almost fired the Gers in front when Ciaran Dickson’s cross found the Englishman at the front post but the hosts managed to somehow clear their lines and avert the danger.
Rangers were forced into an early change shortly after that when skipper Lewis Mayo picked up a knock and was replaced by Ben Williamson with only 11 minutes played.
The reward for the Gers bright start finally came a minute or two later when Dickson’s cross headed across goal by Dapo Mebude heading the ball back across the goal for Natha Patterson to knock over the line and give Rangers a deserved 1-0 lead.
— Rangers B & Academy (@RFC_Youth) October 3, 2019
The Gers almost doubled their lead moments later after more excellent work down the flank by Kennedy to hit the byline and pull the ball back for Dickson, forcing a strong save from Young Boys keeper Lars Eicher at the cost of a corner.
Young Boys started to find their way back into the game and Lewis Budinauckas was forced into a brilliant save from Nico Maier to maintain the Gers’ lead.
Maier would cause a few problems for Rangers in the throughout the game and was comfortably the best Young Boys player on the pitch but the Gers defence shepherded him well and managed to go in at half-time still in the lead.
That wouldn’t last long in the second-half though as Young Boys drew level just four minutes after the restart through Samuel Kasongo as he cuts in onto his right and curled a lovely shot into the top corner.
Rangers fired back almost immediately after a sluggish start to the second period as Danny Finlayson poked the ball home from Kennedy’s well-worked corner with Mebude to make it 2-1.
Ciaran Dickson looked to have put the finishing touches on an impressive win when he made it 3-1 just before the hour mark, rifling home from distance to cap off a good performance from the midfielder.
Rangers had the ball in the net for a fourth time through Dapo Mebude only for the young striker to be flagged offside moments before Young Boys would set up a nervy finale.
Substitute Mischa Eberhard fired home shortly after coming off the bench, with the impressive Maier getting the assist, putting the Gers under real pressure to hold out for the final 15 minutes and come away with a huge win.
The hosts really started to pile on Rangers as they searched for a late equaliser and even hit the frame of the goal in the dying minutes as Breston Maula’s header crashed off the crossbar but Murty’s side couldn’t hold on and conceded a late, late equaliser through Gabriele De Donno.
The two sides will meet again in three weeks time at Firhill in the second leg with the winner going on to face Ludogorets or Slovan Bratislava in the next round.