Berwick ( in white ) attack during the first half ( Photo courtesy of Colin Pike )
Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
SPFL Reserve League 2 Cup
LIVINGSTON RESERVES 3 BERWICK RANGERS RESERVES 0
These teams had already met in the League at Shielfield when the West Lothian team chalked up a big win. This time, it was in their section of the League Cup, a competition played according to Betfred Cup rules with a bonus point for the winners of a penalty shoot out should matters end all square after 90 minutes.
A trialist scored all three goals for the hosts but for Berwick, man of the night was their former player Billy Bald. Just a few hours before kick off, Berwick faced the real prospect of entering the Tony Macaroni Arena without a recognised goalkeeper. Shea Dowie was ruled out after injuring his hand at work earlier in the day and with Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie v. Gretna in mind, it was considered unwise to risk playing first team keeper Sean Brennan.
Luckily, Billy, now 35, answered the late call to play as ‘A.Trialist’, made some good saves and from the back, encouraged, cajoled and directed his much younger teammates against a dominant, physically stronger home team.
Bald was picking the ball out of his net after only two minutes. It was pumped high from inside the home half before being knocked into the path of the no.11. Bald came out to meet him but the advantage was with the man in full flight who duly finished off the move with his first of the night.
The ball was in the Berwick net again in the 10th minute but the eagle eyed linesman had spotted that the Livi man was fractionally offside. Still the home team persisted with the tactic of playing the ball into spaces for their undoubtedly faster men to run to meet and it paid off again on 25 minutes for the left wing man. A couple of minutes later, Bald’s finger tips knocked away a thunderbolt from Craig Sibbald, no.11 high and wide following the resulting corner.
Stray passes led to chances at either end. Rangers’ Grant Rose picked up the first but the supporting Andrew Dempster couldn’t get a decent strike of the ball. Livi’s Cameron Blues accepted the other from Marc Malloy leaving Jack Hamilton well placed inside the box only to chip the ball too high when Bald ran at him.
Malloy made up for it with a good ball from the right corner into the Livi penalty area. Keeper Gary Maley got in the way of Brandon Blair’s shot to spoil Berwick’s best move of the night.
Three minutes into the second half, the referee played advantage as Livingston again punctured the Rangers’ defence, Sibbald supplying the final ball for the trialist to tap home right on the line. It could have signalled the start of a goal deluge but Berwick heads didn’t go down. Instead, they worked to restrict Livingston’s options, sometimes pulling back everyone bar Rose. Bruce McCrorie made an excellent cover tackle on Jamie Docherty. The home sub was also foiled when Bald arched backwards to tip away his threatening strike from right infield.
On 65 minutes, Hamilton hit the bar and it shook again near the end, just before Bald punched away another shot from Docherty. Livingston may have been worth another goal but they weren’t going to get it.
Berwick Rangers: Bald, Ashford, Windram, Smith, McCrorie, Murray ( capt. ), D.Purves ( Short 77 ), Dempster ( C. Trialist 68 ), Rose ( B.Trialist 77 ) Malloy, Blair ( Brown 62 )