HEARD the one about the Irish team, the English team and the Welsh team? All have now been beaten by Rangers.

The Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup may be derided by many, but there has been a serious side to it this term for Graeme Murty and his Auchenhowie kids. A final spot is now in their sights after this victory over Wrexham at Ibrox.

Rangers had seen off Berwick, Stranraer, Ballymena and Solihull to reach the last eight and the last Colts standing now have a chance of becoming the first Under-20s side to lift the silverware. Goals from Jamie Barjonas and Nathan Young-Coombes won it for the Gers on a pleasing afternoon for boss Murty.


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It is, of course, about player progression rather than silverware for the Academy staff at the Hummel Training Centre, but the benefits of this competition have been clear for Rangers this term. It has offered different challenges, and each one has been passed as this side continue to grow individually and collectively.

It was once again a youthful Light Blues line-up as Rangers maintained their policy of playing their kids up an age level in order to give them a greater challenge. It is one that has stood them in good stead.

Wrexham may sit some way lower down the National League table than Solihull but this was still a test for an inexperienced Gers side, although the average age was boosted slightly by Jon Flanagan and George Edmundson as they dropped down from the first team squad.

Boss Steven Gerrard had requested that both get match minutes under their belts and this was as good an outing as any for that purpose. Flanagan is making progress on the road to recovery after several weeks out following hernia surgery, while Edmundson hasn’t featured since the win over Hamilton as Connor Goldson and Filip Helander have formed an ever-improving partnership in recent weeks.

This was mainly about the next generation, though. In front of a couple of thousand Gers fans and a sizeable travelling contingent, it was an opportunity for the Auchenhowie kids to showcase their talents, and move one step closer to a shot at the silverware.

Rangers were positive from the off. It may have taken until the 35th minute for them to open the scoring, but the lead was more than deserved at that stage as Wrexham only had one chance of note, with keeper Kieran Wright saving well from Leighton McIntosh.


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It was Barjonas that was the main threat for Murty’s side as the midfielder, who recently signed an extension to his Ibrox deal, produced an accomplished performance.

Right-back Nathan Patterson – who fired just wide of target after the ball broke from a corner - had enjoyed an equally as impressive start to the match. A powerful runner down the flank, Patterson caught the eye before he was forced off through injury.

That left Barjonas as Rangers’ main man. A shot with his left from distance was just wide of target, while another, this time with his right, curled narrowly outside the far post.

The next time he got a sight of goal, he scored. James Maxwell had been shifted to left-back following Patterson’s withdrawal as Flanagan moved across the defence and it was the youngster that got the assist.

His pass was well left by Young-Coombes and Barjonas showed composure to collect and then slot the ball beyond Christian Dibble, the son of Rangers’ nine-in-a-row keeper Andy.

Dibble Snr made a name for himself during his brief spell with Walter Smith’s side and it would no doubt have meant a lot to him for his boy to run out at Ibrox. It wouldn’t be an afternoon to remember, though.

With 20 minutes remaining, Dibble had to pick the ball out of his net for the second time. A Barjonas effort was spilled and Young-Coombes nipped in to convert and clinch the win.

It was no more than Rangers merited and the plaudits were deserved for Murty’s side. There could yet be a greater reward to come in this competition.