The struggling Rangers may have some light at the end of the tunnel, after the men under Dejan Antonic bested Southern with a stunning 2-1 victory, witnessed by an attendance of 396, thanks to goals by Igor Miovic and Cheng Siu-kwan in the opening Sapling Cup Group B match at Hammer Hill Sports Ground. Patrick Au Yeung was there to round-up the match.
For Rangers, the victory was a welcome relief from their league with them yet to record a point in the Premier League, and were also eliminated in a 5-0 thumping by Kitchee in the Senior Shield a week ago.
Throughout the contest, Rangers looked aggressive and motivated, and their early hard work paid off with their first goal of the day. In the 27th minute, a long free-kick from Zhang Jun on the left side targeted Miovic whose header from the far post found the back of the net to make it 1:0.
In spite of Southern being seen as a better team on paper, they looked the more disappointing side of two. A few scoring opportunities were present, especially those from Paul Ngue and playmaker Michael Luk. However, the final touches left a lot to be desired.
In the second half, the Aberdeeners continued to struggle offensively as the presence of their top strikers Marcos de la Espada and Wellingsson De Souza was hardly noticeable.
On the other hand, Rangers were hungry for more, and a header from Cristian Castano would have surely extended the lead, had goalkeeper Tse Tak-him not made a spectacular diving rescue.
Ultimately, they struck gold once again in the 61th minute, and a superb volley by the unmarked Cheng Siu-kwan – fed from a Miovic cross – from the edge of the six-yard box turned out to be the decider of the game.
The consolation for Southern occurred in stoppage time of the game, when referee Tam Ping-wun awarded them a penalty kick after Luk’s free-kick just outside the box hit a hand in the Rangers wall. The spot kick was converted by De La Espada, but it was too little too late from Ricky Cheng’s side, and it was Rangers who came away with a 2:1 win to temporarily take the pressure off their poor league form.