Match Reports

Albion hold Scottish champions in pre-season opener

Plenty of positives for Potter in 0-0 draw at Ibrox.

By Bruce Talbot • 24 July 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Enock Mwepu tried his luck from distance in the first half, but his effort was wide.
  • Glasgow Rangers 0, Albion 0

Albion began their preparations for the new season with a goalless draw at the home of the Scottish champions.

The home side created the better chances with John Lundstram hitting the bar in the second half, but it was a good workout in the Ibrox sunshine for Graham Potter's players, as they stepped up their work ahead of the Premier League kick-off in three weeks.

It was a strong squad that arrived in Glasgow despite the absence of 11 players including Albion's Euro 2020 and Copa America players, Alexis Mac Allister, who is at the Tokyo Olympics, and Lewis Dunk, Danny Welbeck, Tariq Lamptey and Adam Webster.

By Paul Hazlewood
Kjell Scherpen had a few tame efforts to deal with in the first half against Rangers.

Head coach Graham Potter fielded two separate XIs with Kjell Scherpen and Enock Mwepu making their competitive debuts in the first half while under-23s Marc Leonard, Ayo Tanimowo, Taylor Richards, James Furlong and Antef Tsoungui all got opportunities to impress after the break.

There was no surprise to hear Shane Duffy getting stick from the Ibrox faithful following his loan spell at Celtic last season but the defender was in the right place at the right time early on to keep out Cedric Itten's shot after he had dispossessed Scherpen.

The Dutch goalkeeper made a good save to deny ex-Albion player Leon Balogun and a couple of more routine stops as Rangers made most of the early running.

Albion gradually worked their way into the game. Neal Maupay’s shot from distance after a neat turn was never going to trouble Jon McLaughlin then the keeper held a cross from Reda Khadra after he broke down the right.

Dan Burn, under pressure from a couple of defenders, headed Pascal Gross' corner narrowly over and just before the break Andi Zeqiri tested McLaughlin with a shot from distance.

Albion had certainly grown into the game after Rangers had been the more threatening in the early stages.

By Paul Hazlewood
Solly March made his first appearance for Albion since picking up a knee injury in February.

Albion made 11 changes at the break and the visitors enjoyed a decent spell of possession at the start of the second half as the new-look team settled down with Steven Alzate operating on the right of the back three and Solly March and Percy Tau in behind Florin Andone.

March, fit again after injury wrecked the second half of last season, made a couple of good bursts down the left but it was Rangers who nearly opened the scoring in the 62nd minute when Lundstram clipped a left-foot effort from outside the box against the bar from outside the box.

There was a big cheer from the 8,000 crowd – the largest at Ibrox since March 2020 – when ex-Albion defender Connor Goldson came on for the last 20 minutes.

By Paul Hazlewood
Former Albion defender Connor Goldson came on for the last 30 minutes for Rangers.

Rangers' substitute Ianis Hagi had the ball in the net with 12 minutes to go but he was penalised for a foul on Yves Bissouma then Jermaine Defoe glanced a header wide as the home looked for a winner, but Albion negotiated the closing stages comfortably enough.

They are back in pre-season action next Saturday against Championship side Luton Town at Kenilworth Road before welcoming Getafe to the Amex on 7th August.

Albion (first half): Scherpen, Duffy, Burn, Leonard, Zeqiri, Khadra Lallana, Gross, Maupay, Connolly, Mwepu.

Second half: Steele, Furlong, Tanimowo, Ostigard, Tsoungui, March, Bissouma, Alzate, Richards, Andone, Tau.

Subs: Welbeck, Walton.