Berwick Rangers turned in another excellent performance against their Glaswegian namesakes at a wintry Shielfield on Saturday, but they were on the wrong side of both Lady Luck and even-handed officiating, and that combination of factors, together with a lack of composure in front of goal, cost them another famous result.
Lets be honest here, the 2013 version of The Rangers are a pretty mediocre bunch, with only Northern Ireland international Andy Little looking a cut above. Ian Little’s well-balanced side bossed possession and created the lion’s share of scoring chances. Marc McCallum was underemployed in the home goal, testament to the professional job done by skipper Chris Townsley and his back four, but it was the visitors who got the breaks, courtesy of an imaginary penalty after Shields’ dive, and a fortuitous third when Jacob’s goal-line clearance landed right at the feet of Faure. In between, Andy Little scored an absolute peach of a volley, the one true moment of genuine class from The Rangers.
Darren Lavery, playing with the confidence of a man in the habit of making goalscoring look easy, gave the black & gold the prefect start with a 6th minute opener, glancing home Easton’s cross with a slight deflection off Greek defender Argyriou. Ref Cammy Murray gave The Rangers a free pass back into the game when he awarded a 9th minute penalty against Dougie Brydon for simply standing his ground against the advancing Shields, who went to ground like a shot pheasant. To nobody’s great surprise, he dusted himself down and buried the penalty beyond McCallum. It’s fair to say that the consensus on the ref and stand-side linesman was that they were absolutely rank throughout – and confirmed non Old Firm supporters’ prejudices about bias in favour of the Glaswegian outfits. Berwick were denied a penalty when Argyriou tripped Easton, and came within inches of regaining the lead in the 37th minute when Lavery broke through on goal before forcing Alexander into an excellent save with his feet. Gielty, homing in on the loose ball, slipped just when it looked like he was about to force the ball home. Sods law and all that. With the clock ticking down towards the break, Little crashed home a vicious volley from Wallace’s left wing cross to give the blues a lead they hardly deserved.
The goal clearly took the wind out of Berwick’s sails, and their confidence suffered another blow when the dangerous Dylan Easton was subbed two minutes into the second period with what looked like an ankle injury.However, with Scott Dalziel making an awkward nuisance of himself on his full debut for the black & gold, and Lee Currie and the unflappable Neil Janczyk running the midfield in the face of Ian Black’s general cantankerousness, Berwick began to reassert themselves only to concede a soft third on 66 minutes when Jacob’s clearance off the line fell to the loitering Faure, who slotted home from 12 yards. From thereon in, it was all Berwick, who racked up a decent tally of corners and created a fistful of half chances. Dean Carse had a goal-bound flick diverted wide by Hegarty, Wallace blocked McLaren’s goal-bound shot and the same player headed over when it looked easier to score. It was the ability to take advantage of the half chances that was the difference between the teams in the end – they did, we didn’t.
When the dust settles, it reveals that Berwick Rangers now lie in 8th place, their lowest league position in years. Regular supporters like me – as opposed to the big match voyeurs – know full well that this is a false position, but the team needs to take advantage of the forthcoming programme of catch-up fixtures to build a run of wins that hoists them into a position that justifies the quality of their play. Baltic Tuesday nights at Shielfield against the likes of Elgin and Queens Park, before the smattering of faithful, are a truer test of this teams’ mettle, and it is on showings in these games that planning for next season’s reconstructed league campaign should be built.
McCallum 7; Jacobs 8; Townsley 7; Brydon 7; Hoskins 7; Easton 7(McLaren 7); Currie 8; Janczyk 8; Gielty 7; Dalziel 7 (O’Brien 7); Lavery 7(Carse 7)
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