A crowd of 8,643 saw the NASL's Ottawa Fury FC fall 1-0 to visiting Scottish side Rangers FC in an international friendly at TD Place on Wednesday evening.
Neither side truly challenged offensively until the 19th minute, when towering 'Gers captain Lee McCulloch climbed above his defender to powerfully deflect a corner high over the Ottawa net - which was guarded for the opening half hour by Marcel DeBellis, a Fury FC youngster making his 2014 debut for the team.
McCulloch continued to dominate aerially, coming substantially closer to opening the scoring two minutes later. Off of yet another corner, McCulloch parked himself at the far post, rose above his defender, and powered a header cross-goal which glanced off the Ottawa crossbar.
Rangers continued to press, especially down the left flank, and f Kenny Miller enjoyed a few half-chances towards the middle of the half for The 'Gers, who dominated the majority of the first half.
Tempers flared in the 24th minute, when Fury FC midfielder Tony Donatelli clattered into Rangers' Ian Black somewhat recklessly, earning a yellow card from referee Mathieu Bordeau. Two minutes later, it was Ottawa centreback Omar Jarun getting into it with Miller, forcing the referee to have a little chat with the two players.
Rangers continued to press, and youngster Lewis McLeod's centering effort in the 30th minute was somehow not converted by Miller, who seemed to do everything humanly possible to prevent the ball from crossing the line - a sterling defensive play from the Rangers striker, only at the wrong end of the pitch.
The Scottish giants would finally take the lead in the 38th minute after threatening for the majority of the half. After a nice link-up on the left flank, it was the youngster McLeod yet again impressing, with some nifty footwork at the edge of the Ottawa penalty area before a scintillating spin-pass found Nicky Law just inside the Fury FC box. Law then finessed a near-perfect shot past Ottawa substitute 'keeper and debutant Romuald Peiser, who had no chance.
Fury FC nearly pulled level in the 52nd minute, when striker Vini Dantas won a 1-on-1 with a Rangers defender, allowing him all sorts of time alone in front of Rangers 'keeper Steve Simonsen. Dantas' curled effort rolled just wide of the far post, producing quite a few ooh's and ahh's around the stadium.
Ottawa continued to press, with Pierre-Rudolph Mayard's 58th minute header off of a set piece landed safely in the arms of Simonsen.
Just thirty seconds later, the visitors from Scotland nearly doubled their lead, with Nicky Law surging through the Ottawa defense and sending a hard shot just wide in search of his second goal of the match.
Rangers appeared to have doubled their lead in the 69th minute, when Ian Black's shot was partially blocked by Fury FC defender Ramon Soria. The deflected shot fell perfectly for Kenny Miller, and he headed the loose ball past a helpless Chad Bush and into the Ottawa net. Luckily for Fury FC, the linesman's flag went up for an offside.
Fury FC came incredibly close to tying the match in the 75th, when rightback Philippe Davies' cross found hulking striker Vini Dantas, who chested it down before unleashing a rocket which went just over the Rangers net.
Popping up dangerously yet again, Rangers prospect Lewis McLeod found his way in alone on rookie Ottawa 'keeper Chad Bush in the 81st, with Bush coming out on top in that particular duel, dropping well and making a crucial stop.
It seemed as though Fury FC had drawn level deep in injury time, as Nicki Paterson smacked a loose ball past Simonsen and into the Rangers' net, but the referee's whistle had gone, blowing the play dead due to a foul on a Rangers defender earlier on the play.
"We've been treated spectacularly during our time in North America," said Rangers legend and manager Ally McCoist post-game. "All our games have been competitive, and that's all we could have asked for."
Of his bright young midfielder McLeod, McCoist beamed, "We're very pleased with his game tonight. He can play anywhere across the midfield, and is returning from an injury which kept him out most of last year. He's a young player we're excited about - he showed some great skills tonight."
As for Fury FC manager Marc Dos Santos, the Ottawa boss was pleased with how the evening went. "Our job is to give the Glasgow Rangers a good, fair game - and we did that. For us, tonight was an opportunity to play some other players who don't always play in the league. Tactically, we can't take anything from this game - but it's a great training session," he laughed during the friendly post-game presser.
Dos Santos had the highest regards for young Jacob Schroeter, the seventeen year-old who made his senior debut for the club on Wednesday evening, coming on in the 88th minute. "Jacob is a player who has worked very hard, at the Under-17 and Under-20 level, and he is a sign that we are very serious about our academy. He is an example to every soccer player in Ottawa, that if you work hard and play at the academy, you can one day potentially play amongst professionals."
23.07.2014: Ottawa, Ontario CANADA; TD Place (A: 8643)
OTTAWA FURY FC – RANGERS FC (SCO) 0-1 (0-1)
Nicky LAW 38’
Ottawa Fury FC: Marcel DeBellis (31: Romuald Peiser) (64: Chad Bush) – Ramon Soria, Mason Trafford (56: Maykon), Omar Jarun, Andrés Fresenga (51: Philippe Davies), Sinisa Ubiparipovic (65: Agourram), Richie Ryan (67: Mauro Eustaquio), Tony Donatelli (61: Nicki Paterson), Pierre-Rudolph Mayard (79: Kenny Caceros), Vini Dantas, Carl Haworth (89: Schroeter). Booked: Donatelli 24’, Davies 61’, Caceros 90’+
TD: Marc DOS SANTOS
Rangers FC: Cammy Bell (46: Steve Simonsen) – Darren McGregor, Bilel Mohsni, Lee McCulloch, Lee Wallace, Calum Gallagher (79: Steven Smith), Ian Black (74: Kyle Hutton), Nicky Law, Lewis Macleod, Kris Boyd (79: Dean Shiels), Kenny Miller. Booked: none
TD: Ally MCCOIST
R: Mathieu BOURDEAU (CAN)