Gala Fairydean Rovers 1
David Knox at Netherdale
IF any of the 500 or so Rangers fans who travelled to Galashiels on Friday were in need of a pick-me-up, they got it.
The next generation of Ibrox stars impressed throughout the evening as they dominated their Lowland League hosts from the kick off.
Mathew Sheils and Ryan Hardie both scored hat-tricks with the other two goals coming from impressive substitute Andrew Dallas.
All the home team had to show for their night’s work was a Stuart Noble consolation penalty.
Manager Steven Noble admitted his players were a yard off the pace. He said: “We just weren’t ready for a game of that intensity.
“A lot of boys have been on holiday and we haven’t been able to prepare as well as we should have.
“Rangers are full of quality and we were second best for long periods of that match.
"They have some very talented players that will cause most teams problems.”
Hardie had the opportunity to open the scoring from the penalty spot after 13 minutes but Mark Walters produced a tremendous save at his right post.
Gala, though, failed to clear their lines and just moments later the ball was whipped across the area for Shiels to snatch his first of the night.
Serge Atakayi darted past Scott Main six minutes later to square the ball into the path of Hardie for his first.
It wasn’t entirely one-way traffic as Gala battled hard in the middle of the park – and their efforts were almost rewarded on 24 minutes with Kieran Ainslie heading against the bar.
Marc Berry also had a couple of efforts from distance on target, but neither strong enough to trouble Kieran Wright.
Only a goalline clearance from Main on the half hour prevented Shiels hitting the net with an angled shot.
And the impressive winger didn’t have long to wait on his second as Lewis Mayo’s header across goal 10 minutes later allowed him to nod in Rangers’ third at the back post.
Graeme Murty’s changes at the interval didn’t slow Rangers down.
And they were 4-0 up within five minutes of the restart.
Walters produced a stunning double save to deny both Shiels and Dallas, but he was unable to prevent Hardie smashing the third attempt into the net.
The home fans were given something to cheer just two minutes later as Mayo tripped the hard-working Noble inside the area. The former St Johnstone striker sent substitute keeper Aidan McAdams the wrong way with the penalty.
But the Gala goal was only a brief intermission in the Rangers dominance as Shiels raced through the home defence to make it 5-1 just after the hour.
Walters pushed a Hardie shot onto the post 11 minutes later.
But the heroic keeper was to be beaten a further three times in the closing stages.
Dallas fired an unstoppable shot home in the 80th minute before racing clear a few minutes later to round the Gala goalie.
Hardie rounded off a fine evening for the Ibrox club with a stunning strike after racing onto a through ball.
Although the heavy defeat was a blow for the Netherdale club, the official gate of 723 was a welcome boost ahead of an expensive Lowland League campaign.
Gala vice chairman Tom Cass said: “We are very grateful for Rangers bringing such a talented team down to Gala tonight.
“We are also thankful to all of their fans, some who travelled a long distance to be here.”
Gala Fairydean Rovers. M Walters, L Stephen, S Main, G Windram (L Swaney 57), K Ainslie (R Noble 75), D Bonnar (C Riddell 89), D Smith, D Pattenden (G Brown 53), S Noble, M Berry & D Brown (C Heugh 60).
Rangers. K Wright (A McAdams 46), D Finlayson, M Beerman (M Hewitt 60), J Thompson (M Zata 57), A Wilson (S Gray 60), L Mayo, S Atakayi (A Dallas 46), C Palmer (G Nelson 46), R Hardie, J Barjonas (I Ahmed 70) & M Shiels.