May 4, 2013
Rangers' final flourish
#INSERT type:image caption: Rangers players celebrate their Scottish Third Division title win END#Fraser Aird grabbed the only goal of the game as Rangers brought down the curtain on their season in the Scottish Third Division with a 1-0 victory over Berwick.
It was another display that was less than convincing but allowed the champions to take maximum points from the match before being presented with the trophy.
Off-field issues continued to linger in the background but, for the sell-out 50,048 fans, this was all about celebrating the completion of stage one of Rangers' journey back to the top of Scottish football.
In his programme notes, chairman Malcolm Murray wrote: "Today we will receive the SFL3 trophy and we will all celebrate the end of a season that has seen us return from the brink of extinction."
Before the match was even under way, the pitch was flooded with streamers, balloons and confetti, as players, many with their children, applauded the fans for their support over what had been a gruelling campaign in the bottom tier.
Lewis Macleod made his long-awaited return from injury to take his place in the starting line-up for Rangers' final Third Division game.
The midfielder had been sidelined with knee ligament damage since January but was drafted straight into the team for the clash at Ibrox.
Defensive problems - Lee Wallace, Emilson Cribari and Chris Hegarty were all sidelined through injury - meant youngster Luca Gasparotto was handed his first senior start after a couple of positive substitute appearances.
Rangers enjoyed the best of the possession early on but struggled to create much in the way of clear-cut opportunities.
They had the chance to put some pressure on their visitors when David Templeton was felled just outside the area.
After much debate with Lee McCulloch and Ian Black over who should take the set-piece, Templeton himself stepped up only to curl his effort well over.
At the other end, Scott Dalziel was at least on target with a free-kick of his own but goalkeeper Neil Alexander saved the low shot comfortably.
Templeton then saw his strike take a massive deflection and fizz just past the upright.
The honours went to Aird after 32 minutes instead, when he threw himself in front of Kyle Hutton's cross from the left to send a diving header into the back of the net from six yards.
There was a setback for Rangers when Andy Little was forced out of the action five minutes later with a calf problem but the good news was the appearance of Darren Cole, whose season had thought to be over after ankle surgery.
McCulloch moved up front but it was Berwick who had a decent chance to level the scoreline shortly after the restart when Dalziel met Steven Notman's cross and his header was tipped just past the upright by Alexander.
Rangers were not too far away either when youngster Andy Mitchell tried his luck with an audacious 30-yard effort that fell narrowly past the post.
Macleod was also just off-target as the home side chased a second, before Kane Hemmings was thrown into the action for goalscorer Aird after 66 minutes.
A point would be enough to secure Berwick a play-off spot and Notman lashed just wide.
Hemmings then fired over with Rangers equally as keen to secure the win, and Gasparotto was carried off with an injury at the end, before Rangers lifted the trophy.
|Fraser Aird (32')|
|1 Neil Alexander||1 Mark McCallum|
|2 Sebastien Faure||4 Chris James Townsley|
|4 Kyle Hutton||8 Neil Janczyk|
|5 Luca Gasparotto||2 Devon Jacobs|
|3 Andrew Mitchell||3 Dean Hoskins|
|8 Ian Black||11 Kevin McDonald|
|9 David Templeton||7 Steven Notman|
|10 Lewis MacLeod||5 Andrew McLean|
|11 Fraser Aird||9 Fraser McLaren|
|6 Lee McCulloch||6 Damian Gielty|
|7 Andrew Little||10 Scott Dalziel|
|16 Liam Kelly||Ian McCaldon 21|
|17 Darren Cole||Dougie Brydon 15|
|12 Robbie Crawford||Josh Morris 16|
|15 Kane Hemmings||Darren Lavery 14|
|14 Kal Naismith||Dylan Easton 12|
|Darren Cole for Andrew Little (37)||Dylan Easton for Fraser McLaren (64)|
|Kane Hemmings for Fraser Aird (66)||Darren Lavery for Scott Dalziel (68)|
|Robbie Crawford for Lewis MacLeod (75)||Dougie Brydon for Steven Notman (88)|
|Lee McCulloch (62)||Chris James Townsley (42)|
|Fraser McLaren (64)|
|· Squads: Rangers | Berwick Rangers|