DUMBARTON 1 RANGERS 3
Teenage Rangers striker Ryan Hardie admitted two goals on his full debut was a “dream come true” – but just wishes his parents had been there to see it.
The 18-year-old marked his first start in a Light Blue jersey with a brace as Stuart McCall’s side fought back from former Celtic defender Mark Wilson’s second-minute strike to win 3-1 at Dumbarton.
Youngster Hardie has been a prolific finisher for the Ibrox club’s Under-20s side and made the most of his big chance after being told only 90 minutes before kick-off that he was replacing veteran frontman Kenny Miller.
But he the shine was taken off his big moment after his mum and dad – who live 100 miles away in Stranraer – were locked out of the sold-out Dumbarton Stadium clash.
Hardie said: “It’s a dream come true. To get my first start for Rangers and score two goals.
“Being told I was starting was the best feeling in the world. I was confident I could do well and help the team through to a win.
“My family could not get here and that was disappointing. They tried to get tickets and couldn’t – they even tried to get tickets for the home end but they just could not get here.
“I texted them today about 1.30pm to let them know I was starting but my mum and dad phoned to wish me luck. I come from Stranraer but I live here in digs but my family are down there.
“It’s disappointing they were not here to see it but I am sure they will see it on Rangers TV.”
Hardie’s goals help move Rangers four precious points above Hibernian in the battle to finish second in the Scottish Championship, although the Edinburgh side can close the gap to one when they play Livingston on Wednesday.
But Wilson gave the Ibrox men a scare as he netted his first goal since scoring an Old Firm winner for his old Parkhead side in March 2011 after leaping on Darren McGregor’s weak clearance.
Hardie levelled the match after 10 minutes as he bundled home at the second attempt, while his second four minutes after half-time was an instinctive over-the-shoulder flick from a Lee Wallace cross.
Haris Vuckic rounded off the victory with a sublime 25-yard shot and Sons boss Ian Murray admits his side were always up against it.
He said: “I didn’t sign Mark for his goal threat but it was always bound to happen with the old Celtic player scoring against Rangers.
“We got off to a great start and showed our intention with our full-back getting on the end of a cross to score with a great strike. But in a way we probably scored too early and it was always going to be difficult for us to hold on.
“I’m just disappointed for Mark and the lads that we couldn’t hold on after half-time.”