Oxford United's pre-season started with the fantastic experience of playing at Ibrox but the U's were no match for Rangers, whose 5-0 win will send them into European action in good shape this week.
Goals from Daniel Candeias, Greg Stewart, Lewis Mayo, Sheyi Ojo and Jermain Defoe eased Steven Gerrard's side past the U's but United, in their splendid new home kit, were far from overawed by their surroundings.
They might even have been ahead before Candeias’s opener. The returning Rob Hall had the first true effort of the game with a 10th-minute drive into the side netting. With Hall, Gavin Whyte, James Henry and Tariqe Fosu forming a fluid and flexible front four and James Henry side footing a 14th-minute effort narrowly wide there were plenty of encouraging signs but then on 16 minutes the U’s were behind when a Stewart flick on half way sent Candeias away with a clear run at goal. Eastwood did all he could but a calm finish put the Gers a goal up and undid a little of United’s good start.
Henry again had a chance from Hall’s set up and Cameron Brannagan had a shot blocked at source as United rallied from the early setback but on 32 minutes it was 2-0 when Stewart rifled home the second. Rangers, far closer to their season than United, had that little bit of extra energy and the striker chased the ball down right on the by-line before cutting back inside skipper John Mousinho and thumping the ball beyond the helpless Eastwood.
Henry again went close with a rising effort on 35 minutes but it took a magnificent save from Eastwood from Andrew Halliday after 37 minutes to keep it at just 2-0 at the break and he then surpassed that with a vital touch to push a Katic effort onto the bar a minute later.
There were changes at the break but no change of fortune when Rangers went three up early into the second half. Again Eastwood did well, shovelling a Mayo header away but as United attempted to clear, the ball smacked in to Mayo, who did well to catch up and finish with relish into the unguarded net for 3-0. On 70 it was 4-0 when sub Sheyi Ojo skipped clear and bent the ball round the exposed Jack Stevens and United were starting to toil. Defoe emerged from the bench to tap in a fifth with a minute to go but United should not be disheartened by the final score.
There were chances for youngsters Kyran Lofthouse, Sam Allardyce, Kevin Berkoe, Aaron McCreadie, Nico Jones and Owen James to experience playing at Ibrox and a welcome return for Malachi Napa in the yellow shirt - Jamie Hanson ending with the captain's armband as senior player at 23.
A grand day out and our thanks to Rangers for being the perfect hosts and we wish you well for the season.
United move on to more familiar territory with games at Oxford City, Thame and Brackley this week. See you there.
Eastwood (Stevens 60) Long (Jones 78), Dickie (Allardyce 78), Mousinho (Hanson 46), Ruffels (Berkoe 78), Gorrin (McCreadie 78), Brannagan (James 78), Hall (Napa 46), Whyte (Lopes 60), Fosu (Lofthouse 60), Henry (Sykes 46)
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels and Darrell Fisher