Carnival atmosphere grips Andy following rollercoaster season

LIKE every Rangers player, Andy Little is looking forward to the final game of the season against Berwick this Saturday.

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Andy Little and Robbie Crawford celebrate a Rangers goal
Andy Little and Robbie Crawford celebrate a Rangers goal

A sell-out crowd is set to cram into Ibrox to see club captain Lee McCulloch get presented with the Irn-Bru Third Division trophy.

There is sure to be a unique carnival atmosphere inside the famous old Govan ground as Ally McCoist's men are crowned fourth tier champions.

After all the anguish they have endured in the past year – off the field as well as on it – it will be a day to cherish for the Rangers players and their fans.

Little, the Northern Ireland internationalist who stayed loyal to his boyhood heroes last summer as many of his team-mates departed, will celebrate long and loud.

However, the 23-year-old will not dwell on the success for very long; he has already set himself fresh targets for the 2013/14 campaign.

He intends to perform even better and score even more goals in the Second Division – if, that is, where Rangers end up playing – next term.

"I have achieved what I had hoped to achieve this season," he stated.

"I have played the most number of games I have ever played for Rangers in a single campaign.

"I really have been delighted to play over 30 first-team games for the club. That was what I hoped I would have done this season.

"As much as I am not resting on my laurels – I still want to try and impress and score in the final game – I am delighted with how the season has gone personally.

"The goals were an added bonus for me. I didn't set myself a specific target for this season. But I have certainly set a target for next season.

"I want to keep playing first-team games for Rangers next season. But I don't see why I can't score more goals next season.

"Now I feel that, with the number of goals I have scored this season, I have put pressure on myself to score in every game. That is definitely the plan."

Little is currently just a goal behind McCulloch, who was crowned Rangers Player of the Year on Sunday, in the race to finish the season as the Ibrox club's top scorer.

The Light Blues captain took his personal haul to 26 with the opening goal in the disappointing 2-1 defeat to part-time rivals Peterhead at Ibrox earlier this month.

His team-mate admitted he would love to edge ahead of the veteran – who has had the added advantage of taking the penalties – in the scoring charts by netting in a final win over Berwick this weekend. "It would be nice," he said.

"There have been a lot of famous players who have been top scorer at Rangers in the past and it would be an honour to join them.

"I didn't feel at my best coming back into the team against Peterhead after a good few weeks out. It was really frustrating for me because I was enjoying some good form before I got my injury.

"I didn't feel 100%. It was a bad result for the team. Personally, too, I feel I could have done a lot more. I was way off the pace.

"But I am looking forward to finishing the season strongly by helping the team to win our last game in the Third Division.

"I have trained hard since then and was pleased to do better against East Stirlingshire at the weekend. I was also pleased the team performed far better as well.

"As a group, we want to finish well. It has been a real rollercoaster season and we want to give the fans something to cheer about at the end of it all."

Little is glad that the young players who have played such an important role for Rangers this season will get to enjoy the trophy presentation this weekend.

Kids like Fraser Aird, Robbie Crawford, Chris Hegarty, Lewis Macleod, Barrie McKay and Kal Nasimith have all been plucked from the youth ranks and thrust into the Rangers first team.

In the last couple of games, defender Luca Gasparotto and striker Daniel Stoney, who is just 16, have been plucked from obscurity and given run-outs.

Little believes the emergence of such promising talents has helped the Gers team's performances this season and will ensure they continue to progress for the next few seasons.

The striker reflected: "Luca and young Stoney are looking up to boys like Robbie Crawford, Fraser Aird and Lewis Macleod, players who were thrown in earlier in the season and did really well.

"If these players see their contemporaries getting a chance and doing well then I think it gives them confidence that they, too, can do well.

"Stoney certainly impressed when he came on in the second half against East Stirling.

"The more young boys who come through the more it keeps the rest of us on our toes.

"I think the performances of the younger guys in the team has been the highlight of the season.

"We will strengthen in the summer, but I am sure they will feature strongly next season too."

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