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Barjonas wonder strikes helps Rangers brush aside Falkirk

Rangers FC 5

Falkirk FC 1

Simon Ritchie | YFS West Region Reporter
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Rangers sealed their place in the Scottish FA Youth Cup semi-final with a dominant 5-1 victory over Falkirk at Ibrox.

Although the score line suggests a one-sided demolition, Falkirk gave the home side a scare when Kevin O’Hara opened the scoring from the penalty spot, knocking in the rebound when his original effort was saved.

It proved to be a false dawn for the Bairns however, and two Jamie Barjonas goals of supreme quality put Rangers in control at half-time. It was one-way traffic from there and second-half strikes from Zak Rudden, Billy Gilmour, and Jack Thomson sealed the win.

The game started slowly as Rangers struggled to breakdown a defensively minded Falkirk side. There was no question they had come to Ibrox to try and frustrate Rangers’ normal quick pass-and-move game, with a 5-4-1 formation that left little room for the Gers to manoeuvre.

By leaving O’Hara up front on his own they were relying on keeping Rangers at bay and hoping for a goal on the break, using wingbacks Mark Finlayson and Cieran Dunne as an attacking threat, but for most of the first half they were stuck in defensive roles.

For the first 20 minutes the plan worked. Denied by the offside trap on a couple of occasions, Rangers failed to trouble the Falkirk keeper Lewis McMinn, who was only called into action to clear a long ball over the top from Ross McCrorie as an impatient Rangers went route one.

Falkirk’s patience bore fruit as they then got the break they were looking for. Striving to get back to stop a Rangers counter attack through Josh Jeffries, Finlayson won the ball and started a counter-counter-attack of their own. O’Hara eventually forced his way into the Rangers box and striked the ball off Aidan Wilson’s arm.

The referee blew for a penalty, but it looked a harsh decision with the Gers defender’s arm by his side and no intent obvious. O’Hara’s first attempt was saved by Robby McCrorie diving to his left but he couldn’t prevent the Falkirk striker burying the rebound.

Rangers certainly didn’t let their heads drop after conceding however and they evened the game up within five minutes in spectacular fashion.

Having forced a corner, Liam Burt whipped in a cross at the second attempt and found Wilson looking to make up for giving away the penalty. His diving header struck the post, before being half cleared out to Gers midfielder Barjonas 30-yards from goal.

Without hesitation the Spaniard struck a sweet effort into the far top corner, leaving McMinn rooted.

It was something special for the watching crowd to savour, and he had them cheering again on the half hour mark.

Jeffries seemed to be chasing a lost cause on the right flank, somehow keeping the ball in play on the by-line and finding a low cross towards Rudden.He was being too tightly marked to make anything of it but the Falkirk defence’s clearance again fell to Barjonas.

Significantly closer to goal this time, he picked his spot and again placed it in the corner away from McMinn who once more could only watch it nestle in the net.

Falkirk were on the ropes now and when Gilmour’s delicious chipped through ball sent Rudden in it looked like being 3-1 but for a dramatic saving tackle from Jonny Mitchell. It was fantastic last ditch defending from the Bairn’s centre half.

The away side weren’t completely out of it yet and knowing they had to go for an equaliser gave some freedom to wingbacks Finlayson and Dunne to push forward. They combined to almost great effect just before half-time with Dunne’s cross finding Finlayson unmarked in the box but his header was straight at McCrorie.

Rangers didn’t let their intensity drop in the second half and with Falkirk opting for a change to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation, with Jason Jarvis replacing Cieran Dunne, there were more pockets of space available for them to play in.

Jeffries and Gilmour exchanged passes before setting Jordan Houston free down the right wing, with the full back’s cross being met at the near post by Rudden who tried an inventive back-heel flick to outwit McMinn but it dropped wide.

Falkirk seemed to be having problems adapting to their new formation, as while Mark Stowe was now partnering O’Hara up top they weren’t immediately in sync.

When Stowe won a high ball in the Rangers half he headed it on expecting O’Hara to be in front of him – as he would have been in the first half – but with the change in formation Stowe was now the furthest player forward, and the ball went harmlessly back to Rangers.

The pace of Burt was causing the Bairns untold problems, with the Gers wingers happy to pick the ball up and take it a run. His runs were direct and damaging, none more so than the one which led to Rangers extending their lead on 58 minutes.

Driving in from the right, with quick feet and plenty of tricks, he was taken down as he entered the box. The referee originally gave a free-kick but after consulting with his assistant it soon became a penalty.

Rudden stepped up to send McMinn the wrong way and give Rangers some breathing space.

Falkirk were on the ropes now and a minute of action saw them almost get back into the game but ultimately fall further behind. On the attack, Reis Peggie should have done better with a free header in the Rangers box, but his weak effort was comfortable for McCrorie and he sparked an immediate Rangers counter.

Beerman’s perfectly timed through ball set Gilmour free to slip it under McMinn and make it 4-1. It’s hard to come up with fresh superlatives for Rangers’ young talent Gilmour but the composure he showed belied his 15 years.

The icing on the cake came courtesy of another 30-plus-yard screamer from Jack Thomson. The sitting midfielder had an impressive game throughout, holding deep and allowing Gilmour and Barjonas the freedom to roam forward.

He picked the ball up well outside the box following a Rangers corner, he chanced his luck and unleashed a rocket that flew through a crowd of players and beat McMinn at his near post.


Rangers FC
Falkirk FC
1. Robby McCrorie
2. Jordan Houston
3. Myles Beerman
4. Jack Thomson
5. Ross McCrorie
6. Aidan Wilson
7. Josh Jeffries
8. Jamie Barjonas
9. Zak Rudden
10. Billy Gilmour
11. Liam Burt
20. Wright
12. Kyle Bradley
14. Ashmore
15. Atakayi
16. Lyon
17. Gibson
1. Lewis McMinn
2. Mark Finlayson
3. Kyle Johnson
4. Cameron Eadie
5. Jonny Mitchell
6. Reis Peggie
7. Conor Langton
8. Cameron Blues
9. Kevin O’Hara
10. Mark Stowe
11. Cieran Dunne
12. Dunne
14. Munro
15. Keary
16. Jason Jarvis
17. Walker
18. McBride
19. Sweeney
Star Player
Rangers FC
Falkirk FC
A number of players were vying for this title but Jamie Barjonas gets it courtesy of scoring the goals that turned the match around. At a goal down it would have been easy for the Rangers players to let their heads drop but Barjonas brought them roaring back into the game with a wonder strike, and then showed a cool head to calmly slot home the goal to put them in the lead.
A tough game for Falkirk saw them struggle to hold back the constant Rangers advances, but the scoreline would have been much worse for them were it not for the defensive abilities of Jonny Mitchell. He looked assured and tough to beat at the back, saving the Bairns on more than one occasion.
Magic Moment
Rangers FC
Falkirk FC
You could choose any one of the Rangers goals for this, with a host of top quality strikes on show, but the Barjonas leveller was something special. Fully 30-yards out he found the top corner perfectly, with an effort so precise and so vicious, the Falkirk goalkeeper didn't bother to move.
Taking the lead at Ibrox is always a difficult task but Falkirk managed it thanks to the hard work of Kevin O'Hara. Not only did he win the penalty, he had the confidence to hit it himself, and although he was denied at the first attempt, had the presence of mind to tuck away the rebound.

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