Hardie netted twice for the Gers on his full debut, helping Stuart McCall’s men to a 3-1 victory over Dumbarton, and the head coach told the official Rangers website that he was wrong to criticise the second of the goals.
“I probably did him a disservice after the game by saying that his second goal could have gone anywhere,” McCall said. “If you watch it again - not that if I am a prolific goal scorer and if it had been me it would have been anywhere - but when he connects with it he believes that it is going in.
“You can see that in his reaction, he doesn't just throw a leg at it, like I certainly would have done, he aims it into the corner of the goal and it's a really good finish.”
Hardie’s second goal was the best of his two, being a somewhat miraculous finish that should really never have found the back of the net.
His opening strike, which pulled to scores level at 1-1 was a scuffed finish from a one-on-one that took two attempts to drive past the goalkeeper, but the second showed his natural goalscoring instincts.
A cross from the left was behind the 18-year-old forward - who has four first-team appearances to his name - and rather than controlling the ball by bringing it down, he hooked it over his shoulder and the ball nestled in the corner of the net - resembling some form of unorthodox bicycle kick.
It certainly looks like he means it, but McCall’s initial response makes sense, as shooting from that position would not even be in the minds of most forwards.
But that is what makes football so wonderful, and shows that even a striker currently turning out in the Scottish Championship could become one of the best in the world. He has a natural finishing instinct, and it would come as no surprise to see him keep his place in McCall’s plans, and start adding to his debut tally on a frequent basis.