just ten minutes on the clock, the ‘Gers broke the deadlock. Reece Neale’s
corner-kick picked out Michael Smith at the front post and glanced a header
past ‘keeper Sam Johnston.
the other end, the away side looked to equalise immediately as Michael McLellan
showed good feet in the area to work himself an opening, but his low shot was met
with a great one-handed save from Aaron Hogg.
after, Craig McMillen appeared to pull up and wasn’t able to continue, and so
was replaced by forward Lukasz Adamczyk.
hosts’ injury problems then only got worse, as Caolan Loughran fell awkwardly
on his ankle and had to be replaced by Ashton McDermott.
the final opportunity of the first half, midfielder Kyle Cherry had a
half-chance from the edge of the area however his effort was gathered by Hogg,
keeping Rangers’ narrow lead intact at the break.
was the North Down side who started brighter in the second half, as substitute
Mark Kelly’s close-range effort was superbly tipped past the post by Hogg.
the final change of the evening, Ryan Strain took the place of Michael Smith in
later, ex-Gers forward Darren Henderson latched onto Kelly’s square ball but
somehow poked his shot past the upright from close range.
Stewart Nixon’s low drilled cross found Strain who blasted over the bar as the full-time
whistle signalled the halfway point of a two-legged contest which is still very
much in the balance.
Rangers: Hogg; Rodgers, Surgenor, Loughran (McDermott, 33); Coyle, Anderson,
Kelly, Neale; McMillen (Adamczyk, 19); Nixon, Smith (Strain, 70).
substitutes: Malcolmson, McNeill, McCauley, Gage.