Josh McPake nets winner as Rangers begin pre-season schedule with 3-2 win over Partick Thistle at Auchenhowie

Rangers winger Josh McPake in action for Scotland U21s. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)Rangers winger Josh McPake in action for Scotland U21s. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Rangers winger Josh McPake in action for Scotland U21s. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Goals from John Lundstram, Fashion Sakala and Josh McPake clinched victory over their Glasgow neighbours in a behind closed doors game.

Rangers kicked-off their pre-season schedule with a 3-2 victory over Championship side Partick Thistle on Saturday.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst fielded an experimental line-up during the bounce game, which was played behind closed doors at the club’s Auchenhowie training centre.

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With several key players including the likes of Calvin Bassey, Joe Aribo and Glen Kamara still absent due to their recent international involvement, a number of the Light Blues youngsters were handed an opportunity to impress the first-team coaching staff at training last week.

Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos continued his rehab from injury, while veteran goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who signed a contract extension last month at the age of 40, was also not involved.

John Lundstram’s first-half opener was cancelled out by Brian Graham, but Fashion Sakala restored Rangers’ lead just before the interval.

Van Bronckhorst rotated his team at half-time, handing several ‘B’ team stars and fringe players some game time, including Josh McPake.

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The winger returned from disappointing loan spells at Morcambe and Tranmere Rovers last season, but he has reportedly worked hard over the summer to hand himself an Ibrox lifeline.

McPake, who is expected to head out on loan again this summer amid interest from Hartlepool United and an Israeli top-flight club, fired home the winning goal after Cammy Smith had equalised for the visitors.

Rangers and Partick Thistle have a close working relationship, with young players often leaving Ibrox for loan stints at Firhill under the leadership of Ian McCall.

In recent years, Lewis Mayo, Andy Firth, Jake Hastie and Juan Alegria have moved to the Jags on a temporary basis, with midfielder Cole McKinnon set to become the latest player to do so after signing a new three-year-deal last week.

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Rangers are due to fly to the Algarve for a warm weather training camp before facing newly-promoted Sunderland next week, while Thistle are stepping up their preparations for the start of the Premier Sports Cup.

Rangers starting XI: McLaughlin, Tavernier, Lundstram, Goldson, Wright, Sakala, Arfield, Middleton, King, Lowry, Devine

Subs: McCrorie (GK), K. Wright (GK), Simpson, Sands, Katic, Zukowski, Kelly, McPake, McCann, Richie-Hosler, Weston, McCausland McKinnon, Fraser, Miller, Ure

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