Rangers beat Brechin City in Challenge Cup

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Rangers‘ reincarnation as a Third Division club got off to a shaky start Sunday as they needed a Lee McCulloch goal in extra time to edge past Second Division Brechin City 2-1 in the first round of the Scotland Challenge Cup at Glebe Park.

It was the first competitive match for the fallen Glasgow giants, who are more accustomed to the Champions League than the Challenge Cup, since the club was reformed as a new company following liquidation.

The Ibrox club, whose new owners Sevco Scotland were only granted a temporary licence by the Scottish Football Association to play the match late on Friday night, got off to the perfect start when Andrew Little gave them a fourth-minute lead.

However, the expected goal-rush never materialised for Rangers, who as recently as 2008 were playing in a UEFA Cup final, and Brechin’s Andy Jackson poked home a 43rd minute equaliser to ruin the party atmosphere amongst the 3,000 travelling support, who temporarily swelled their host town’s 7,000 population.

After a goalless second half, where both sides had chances to win the tie, it was veteran Lee McCulloch, one of only a few first team regulars from previous seasons to transfer his contract to the new Rangers, who spared Rangers’ blushes with a 102nd minute winner to book their place in the next round.

Despite a mass exodus of first team stars in the summer manager Ally McCoist was able to field a starting line-up that included six internationals although the Ibrox club could only name four substitutes on the bench.

New captain, American international Carlos Bocanegra, took his place in defence alongside Romanian Dorin Goian and Lee Wallace and Kirk Broadfoot while former Hearts midfielder Ian Black and Lewis MacLeod made their debuts.

The Gers fans, who are more used to the more luxurious surroundings of Ibrox or Celtic Park, outnumbered the home fans by three to one at the 4,123 sell-out match as they occupied the 1,000 seat stand behind one of the goals while another 2,000 took their place on the uncovered terracing in front of a hedge that surrounds Glebe Park’s perimeter.

They were already making their presence loudly felt before Little sparked mass celebrations after he got in behind the Brechin defence and lifted the ball over the outrushing Michael Andrews.

Brechin could have had an equaliser in the eighth minute when Jackson broke down the right and cut the ball back for Craig Malloy but he sent his sidefooted effort straight to Neil Alexander.

McCulloch came close with a long drive in the 26th minute before Andrews had to stretch to tip Kirk Broadfoot’s chipped shot over the bar.

Wallace stung the palms of Andrews with a fierce strike before Brechin drew level. Broadfoot misjudged the flight of Ewan Moyes’ floated pass and Jackson got in behind to nick the ball through the legs of Alexander.

Malloy squandered a good opportunity for Brechin immediately after the break when he volleyed wildly over before Andrews tipped a curling free-kick from Black round the post at the other end.

The keeper came to Brechin’s rescue again when he saved MacLeod’s shot with his legs.

In extra time Little had the ball in the net again when he stretched to put the ball past Andrews but his effort was chalked off for offside.

It was McCulloch who came to the rescue for Rangers in the 102nd minute when he connected with MacLeod’s corner to send home a deflected header.

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