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Nervy Rangers hang on to see off Queen of the South's threat

Rangers 1-1 Queen of the South (Rangers win 3-2 on agg)

By Ronnie Esplin

Rangers boss Stuart McCall admits his jittery side made him sweat as they clung on to claim the result which sees them into the Scottish Premiership play-off semi-finals.

The Ibrox side will now take on Hibernian over two legs after edging out Queen of the South with a 1-1 Ibrox draw.

After claiming a 2-1 quarter-final first-leg lead at Palmerston, Gers left their fans panicking in the Glasgow return as they fell behind to Derek Lyle's first-half header.

They were booed off at half-time as their promotion hopes hung in the balance.

However, they responded after the break with Lee Wallace's equaliser and clung on through the final nervy half-hour for a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

McCall said: "It was more nervous than it should have been. In the first half we played a lot of good football and created a lot of opportunities.

"But then they scored with their first real attack.

"However, we probably proved a lot of people wrong. Going in at half-time there would've been folk saying Rangers have bottled it again.

"But we said to them at half-time, 'if we keep creating we will make opportunities'. We just need to keep it tight at the other end.

"In the last 10 or 15 minutes, Queens had nothing to lose while we were a bit tense. But it's job done and I'm proud of them."

Gers will now welcome Alan Stubbs' side to Ibrox on Wednesday before the second leg in Leith next Saturday, with the winner set to take on top-flight strugglers Motherwell in the final.

Having had the benefit of home advantage in the decisive leg of their battle with Queens, it will be down to McCall's team to set the pace when Hibs visit this coming midweek.

But the manager is not worried another bout of anxiety will hinder their chances.

"Hibs have been here and won and we've been to Hibs and won, so I don't think the first leg being at Ibrox makes that much of a difference," he said.

"There was a lot of tension from the stands today, but on the flip side, the atmosphere was like it was back in my day as a player. It was brilliant.

"We've beaten Hearts here, should have beaten them at their place. We have beaten Hibs. We've got past Queens when there were a few doubters. We are in confident mood. We're looking forward to it and we're ready."

McCall had been asked to read out a letter from the Union Bears fan group to his players before kick-off. The note urged the team to "give the fans what we deserve" - but the boss revealed he will keep it back for Wednesday's team-talk.

"I didn't use it," he explained. "It's a fantastic letter from the Union Bears and I will use it on Wednesday.

"The basis of the letter was saying that this was a must-win game. A lot of it is good stuff but I had already done what I thought was right for the players today.

"But parts of it will be getting used. It's a fans' perspective and we all know how they are feeling. Hopefully we sent them home happy today and they will be back with their voices on Wednesday ready to go again."

Queens boss James Fowler said: "I'm a wee bit disappointed. I felt we deserved to take the game into extra-time but I'm really proud of the players.

"I don't think there was much between the teams but I think we were deserving of being in the top four and competing with Rangers to progress."

RANGERS: Bell, Foster, McGregor, Zaliukas, Wallace, Murdoch, Shiels (Smith 86), Vuckic, Law, Miller, Clark (Mohsni 86)

Subs not used: Black, Boyd, Crawford, Simonsen, Walsh

Goal: Wallace 60

Queen of the south: Clark, Durnan (Russell 69), Dowie, Higgins, Kidd, McShane, Carmichael, Millar (McKenna 62), Holt, Lyle, Reilly (Smith 73)

Subs not used: Paton, Atkinson, Hooper, Pickard

Goals: Chadli 56

Man of match: Lee Wallace

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Attendance: 48,035

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