Cup is for keeps as Kelly lends a hand

GORDON DURIE hailed his Rangers kids as they lifted the SFA Youth Cup with an 8-7 penalties win over Hearts last night.

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Liam Kelly, orange jersey in centre, celebrates with his Rangers team-mates after his penalty shootout heroics handed Gordon Durie's men the victory
Liam Kelly, orange jersey in centre, celebrates with his Rangers team-mates after his penalty shootout heroics handed Gordon Durie's men the victory

Just days after seeing their dreams of league glory ended by Old Firm rivals Celtic, the Ibrox second string bounced back in style as they emerged victorious at the end of a 2-2 draw at St Mirren Park.

It was keeper Liam Kelly who was the Light Blues hero as he converted the Gers' final spot-kick and saved from Jambos shotstopper Jordan Millar to claim the cup.

Gers boss Durie said: "It was a fantastic game and both teams contributed to that.

"I have got to give my players massive credit because we had a disappointment last week but they have been training well and been bright.

"I don't think we started too well in the first half but in the second half and in extra time I think we shaded it.

"I said to them that they have shown great character. Last week was a massive disappointment but they have worked hard.

"We say to them that they get their rewards and they got their rewards last night."

While the budding Light Blues have struggled to make the breakthrough into Ally McCoist's first-string plans this season, the Hearts line-up contained several stars who have impressed in the Premiership, with Callum Paterson, Jordan McGhee, Billy King, Dale Carrick, Gary Oliver and Sam Nicholson all handed starts after their exploits for the Jambos top team.

And that experience showed early on as Robbie Neilson's side took the lead, Nicholson beating Kelly at the second attempt after meeting Paterson's deep cross and seeing his initial effort saved.

Just after the break, Durie's side should have found themselves with a mountain to climb but when Oliver rounded Kelly just yards out, the capital kid somehow put his shot into the side net.

Rangers got themselves level just before the hour mark but it wasn't the returning Barrie McKay, or fellow-sub Jamie Burrows, who was the hero, with Greg Pasczio, the Ibrox defender, the man who would find the net as his deflected drive beat Millar in the Jambos goal.

It should have been the lift Durie's side needed to go and win the game, but they found themselves behind for the second time of the night just minutes later, King hitting the net after Angus Beith saw his effort blocked on the line.

After Burrows and sub Scott Roberts had passed up glorious chances as Rangers piled forward, defender Craig Halkett finally got the breakthrough, his headed flick deceiving Millar as he rushed out to claim a long ball.

The momentum was with Rangers in extra time and, after Luca Gasparotto had an effort ruled out for offside in the first period, Burrows again missed a sitter as he fluffed his lines after a speedy break from McKay.

It was penalties that decided the destination of the silverware and it was a dramatic finale as Halkett missed the chance to win it for Rangers and it went to sudden death.

With the scores tied at 7-7, keeper Kelly stepped up and slotted home before saving from opposite number Millar to win the cup in style for the Gers.


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