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Match Reports

Report: Rangers 1 Rovers 1

Lewis Travis levels up for Rovers who continue their unbeaten start to pre-season at Ibrox against the Gers

21 July 2019

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A second half equaliser from Lewis Travis ensured Rovers continued their unbeaten start to pre-season after an entertaining draw against Rangers at Ibrox.

The midfielder slotted home from close range midway through the second 45 minutes to earn a share of the spoils in Glasgow.

Jermain Defoe's glancing header had given the hosts a deserved lead on the half hour mark, but Rovers improved after the break to take something back to East Lancashire for their efforts.

Charlie Mulgrew skippered the side on his return to his home city, with the Scotland skipper booed throughout the encounter due to his connections to arch rivals Celtic.

A strong line-up also saw Tony Mowbray, another with links to Celtic both as a player and manager, hand starts to Bradley Johnson, Stewart Downing and Corry Evans for the first time in pre-season in front of a crowd of just under 19,000.

Rovers started well, with a Bradley Dack strike being blocked before Allan McGregor was forced to grab a downward header from Darragh Lenihan in a lively opening few minutes.

For the hosts, Sheyi Ojo flashed a shot wide of Jayson Leutwiler's left-hand post after neat interplay between the Liverpool loanee and midfielder Ryan Jack.

After former Burnley man Scott Arfield saw a flicked header drift inches past Leutwiler's other post, Danny Graham tried his luck with a curling effort that fell safely into the gloves of McGregor as the chances continued to come for both sides.

Leutwiler pulled out all the stops soon after to beat away a ferocious strike from ex-England man Jermain Defoe, who wriggled away from his man before unleashing a stinging drive from 12 yards out.

The Canadian stopper was on hand again just before the half hour mark, this time to tip over an effort from Ojo as Rangers continued to probe for the opener at an overcast Ibrox.

And that strike did come just a moment later as a pinpoint cross from Jordan Jones, a man given his professional debut by Mowbray at Middlesbrough, found the head of Defoe who nodded home from close range to give Steven Gerrard's side the lead.

Jones was becoming a nuisance to Rovers and it was the Northern Ireland international who was next to force Leutwiler into another save; this time the Rovers man had to parry the strike from the edge of the box.

That was how the teams went in at the break, but Rovers could and probably should have gone in level had Adam Armstrong shot from close range rather than look to pick out Graham at the back post before the danger was cleared.

A half time alteration saw Lewis Travis enter the action in place of the returning Evans as Rovers continued to work with a new 4-3-3 system.

The visitors almost did find an equaliser five minutes after the interval, but Armstrong's excellent low cross was taken off Graham's toes by new Rangers recruit George Edmundson.

At the other end, Leutwiler's used all of his 6'5' frame to tip behind a curling effort from Arfield behind before Nikola Katic headed another dangerous Jones cross past the post.

A number of changes just after the hour saw Gerrard make four alterations before John Buckley, Ben Brereton and Joe Rothwell entered the acion, coming on in place of Amari'i Bell, Dack and Graham.

And almost immediately those changes paid off for Mowbray's men as Buckley found Brereton, the forward's strike was saved but fell kindly for Travis who slotted home from six yards out.

The goal appeared to give Rovers belief, and Buckley's vision again helped create the next chance soon after, but after feeding Armstrong, the number 7 cut in and saw his effort well saved by McGregor.

Rangers came again and Elliott Bennett managed to get a crucial touch on the ball after substitute Alfredo Morelos prodded towards goal after good feet from Joe Aribo.

The Gers thought they'd nicked a late winner in the final minute, but Morelos was adjudged to be offside after ticking home a cross from the right-hand side, but a draw was probably the fairest outcome on the balance of play.

Don't forget that Rovers are next in action on Wednesday night when we make the short trip to take on League One newcomers Bury at Gigg Lane.

Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier (c), Edmundson (Helander, 60), Katic, Barisic, Jack (Docherty, 85), Arfield (Aribo, 60) , Davis (Kamara, 60), Ojo, Jones (Murphy, 76), Defoe (Morelos, 60).

Unused substitutes: Firth, Halliday, Stewart, Polster.

Goal: Defoe, 30.

Rovers: Leutwiler, Bennett, Lenihan, Mulgrew (c) (Nyambe, 76), Bell (Rothwell, 62), Johnson (Smallwood, 76), Downing (Hart, 77), Evans (Travis, 46), Armstrong (Butterworth, 76), Dack (Buckley, 62), Graham (Brereton, 62).

Unused substitutes: Fisher, Hart, Grayson, Magloire.

Goal: Travis, 65

Booked: Buckley, 77

Referee: Don Robertson.

Attendance: 18,627

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