Blue-eyed Boyd marks Rangers return with goal in stalemate

KRIS Boyd took just eight minutes to score on his return for Rangers and earn the Ibrox club a draw in their second pre-season friendly of the summer.

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The old double act... Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller celebrate a return to the same team for Rangers in the Highlands
The old double act... Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller celebrate a return to the same team for Rangers in the Highlands

Ally McCoist's side were trailing Brora by 1-0 with just over 20 minutes remaining at Dudgeon Park when Boyd was brought on for Dean Shiels.

And it did not take long for the former Scotland striker, who re-signed for his boyhood heroes last month, to do what he does best and find the back of the net.

True to form, he levelled the match in the 77th minute after being supplied with the ball by an inch-perfect pass from central midfielder Ian Black.

The 30-year-old, whose every move was cheered by the large travelling support, gave Joe Malin in the Brora goal no chance with a low left foot shot.

"That's Boydy isn't it?" said Kenny McDowall, the Rangers assistant manager, with a shake of his head after the game.

"That is what everyone knows he can do and it is obviously why we brought him back to the place. He is off with a bang.

"That is him started now and we hope for many more. Kenny Miller has made a great difference to our play as well. But that is Boydy for you. He plays on the shoulder and he will get his shots away. It was a great goal that he scored."

Before kick-off, McCoist admitted he was expecting a more demanding test than his side had been given by Buckie in their opening pre-season friendly on Thursday night.

The Sutherland club are backed by wealthy local businessman Ben Mackay and won the Highland League title for the first time in their history last season.

There were several familiar faces in the home team's starting line-up: Ross Tokely, Grant Munro and Zander Sutherland all played for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the past.

McCoist's concerns proved to be well-founded in an opening 45 minutes the hosts dominated. Their guests only had a single shot at goal, a tame Calum Gallagher effort in the first half. Brora took the lead in 14 minutes.

Sutherland played a short corner with Andrew Greig who then whipped a cross into a cluster of bodies in the Rangers area.

The visiting defence failed to clear the danger and James McKay showed great composure to nip in and curl a shot beyond Cammy Bell and into the net.

McCoist made extensive changes at half-time - as he had in Moray three days earlier - and brought on no fewer than seven players.

Richard Foster, Lee Wallace, Nicky Law, Black and Kenny Miller were all introduced.

The Rangers fans had all eyes trained on trialist Marius Zaliukas, who formed the central defensive partnership with new signing Darren McGregor in the second half.

The Lithuanian has been on trial with the SPFL League One champions and is set to be offered a contract in the coming days.

It was easy to see why McCoist is keen to have him. He produced a fine display.

Miller, who had scored on his Rangers comeback in the 3-0 win over Buckie, took over from Nicky Clark as the lone striker.

The Ibrox club posed more of a threat as a result. The former Scotland international looked fit and sharp and his directness, physicality and vision caused a clearly tiring Brora side all kinds of problems.

Gallagher linked well with Barrie McKay, who had another bright run-out, in 58 minutes to tee up a chance for the winger. McKay, though, could only hit the side netting with his effort.

The biggest cheer of the afternoon came when Boyd replaced Shiels in 69 minutes to make his first appearance for Rangers in four years.

The Scottish Premier League's all-time top goalscorer had not featured against Buckie as Rangers' coaching staff felt he was behind his team-mates in terms of fitness. He had, after all, undergone a clean-up operation on an ankle in the summer.

But the lethal predator, who scored over 20 goals for Premiership club Kilmarnock last season, looked as dangerous in and around the box as ever. "Kris has just joined in with training in the last couple of days," said McDowall.

"He had an ankle operation in the summer, just to clear up some rubbish, nothing major.

"Big Stevie, our physio, has been working with him and doing some rehab. But at this stage of the season there is obviously no rush.

"But he has joined us in the last couple of days. It was always the plan to get him 20 minutes in the match against Brora and that is what we did. I am sure he will push on."

McGregor should have done better with a header with just three minutes remaining after Boyd had nodded a Fraser Aird corner into his path. The defender's attempt from just a few yards out drifted wide.

Football

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