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Rangers 4 Queen's Park 0: Murray Park youngsters are ones to gain after a year of pain

An anniversary can be a chastening event, and few Rangers supporters wish to relive the events of 12 months ago.

Ian Black is relieved  after opening the scoring, and his Rangers account, in the 50th minute.  Picture: Lorraine Hill/SNS
Ian Black is relieved after opening the scoring, and his Rangers account, in the 50th minute. Picture: Lorraine Hill/SNS

The image of Craig Whyte standing on the steps of the main entrance at Ibrox informing the world that Rangers were officially in administration remains a galling event given the months of turmoil that followed. That moment came on February 14, but this week is littered with significant dates.

It is 12 months to the day, for example, that Barrie McKay was playing for Rangers under-19s in a 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock under-19s at Kilwinning Sports Centre. Last Saturday, he performed in front of 46,104 at Ibrox, and was central to two of Rangers' four goals.

The contract extension he recently signed tells of the esteem in which Ally McCoist holds the winger, and if there is still lingering anger about the reign of Whyte and his colleagues, the younger players' development has been compensation.

"I was still playing youth football so [the past 12 months] has kind of helped me because it meant I got my chance out of all of this," McKay said. "[As players] we didn't really know what was going to happen in the end of it so it has actually worked out quite well for me.

"It's a big difference – when you are playing youth football, you are lucky if you even get 100 people going and now you are playing in front of 50,000. It's crazy."

There was uncertainty for the players to endure in the last year, but for the likes of McKay that was quickly replaced with a glaring opportunity. Few 17-year-olds find themselves among the first-team regulars at the Old Firm, but McKay is not alone at Rangers. Lewis McLeod, Fraser Aird, Robbie Crawford and, making his first start of the season in this comprehensive victory over Queen's Park, Andrew Mitchell, have all become established members of the senior squad as teenagers.

The turmoil of the past 12 months remains a vivid memory, but the anniversary seems almost a cathartic moment. The concerns for the future must seem abstract now when the club can attract almost 50,000 supporters for a routine game in the Irn-Bru Third Division.

There will still be grumbles from a support accustomed to glory, and Rangers fans were infuriated by the team's meek display against Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup the previous weekend.

Yet at the start of February 2012, Rangers lost to Dundee United at Ibrox in the Scottish Cup. They then defeated Dunfermline Athletic away, but lost at home to Kilmarnock in the first game after administration. There followed a period of drama, anxiety and raw emotion, and those feelings tend to act as a balance when there might be a loss of perspective.

"In my working life, it's possibly been the most difficult year," said McCoist. "Taking everything into perspective, we're content with where we are. But we're not underestimating the task ahead."

That obligation seems well within reach, since Rangers moved 22 points clear at the top of the Third Division with this win. Queen's Park were dogged opponents in the opening period, but only because Rangers failed to take the slew of chances they created.

It eventually fell to Ian Black, criticised heavily in the aftermath of the defeat by Dundee United, to open the scoring in the second half with his first goal for the club.

"I just hope I can pop up with a few more. I've had a few efforts and just been unfortunate, so it was a case of getting the first one," he said. "We played well in the second half, knocked the ball about and there is a lot of confidence, especially after last week – we knew we had to give a reaction."

It was his reaction to his red card last week that prompted criticism after he laughed and pretended to pick up the corner flag before making his way to the tunnel.

"I take a bit of stick and it's a bit of banter," he said. "I'm a bubbly guy, I like a bit of a laugh and I give as good as I get. The people who write stories are always going to criticise me. I'm big enough to deal with that.

"I'm just delighted to play well in this game for the fans and the team, and to score a goal."

Once Black opened the scoring from McKay's well-judged cross, the home side were more assured in front of goal. Andy Little scored two more, either side of a neat Dean Shiels finish, and the second-half display was their most impressive of the season, at least in the league. Even so, minds cannot be distracted from the long-term aim of returning the club to the top division.

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