Pic: Gary Phillips celebrates scoring Berwick’s opening goal ( Photo copyright of Alan Bell )
Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 4 CLYDE 3
A real thriller is one that has the reader or viewer on edge. With home fans certainly on edge during the closing chapter as Clyde threatened to rub out Rangers’ two goal lead for a second time, this match merits the description.
Groundsman Ross Aitchison described the going as soft which was probably the cause of the occasional slip none more important than that minutes into the second half. With Berwick having turned round 3-2 up, but their defence in distress, it seemed all Sean Higgins need do was pull the trigger. Thankfully for the Black and Gold, he lost his footing and Kevin McKinlay was able to kick the ball away.
Rangers announced a late change to the listed team with Kevin Walker returning to replace Devlin Mackay in goal. Clyde included former Berwick full back Ewan McNeill but the name Shielfield supporters are more likely to recall is that of number 6, Scott McLaughlin. He had a busy night not only taking corners from both sides of the field but his free kicks gave Rangers nightmares and were the source of all three of the visitors’ goals.
Berwick took the lead around the quarter of an hour mark. With numbers up front, Greg Rutherford lobbed the ball to Gary Phillips whose own lob from a few yards out gave keeper John Gibson very little chance. Towards the half hour, the lead was doubled by the first of four goals inside an eight minute spell. Aaron Murrell shuffled the ball before passing to Stevie Notman. His through ball to Rutherford paved the way for the striker to slip the ball home for the first of a brace.
Phillips gave away a free kick on the Main Stand side. McLaughlin’s high ball was headed on before Chris Smith knocked it into the net. When McKinlay conceded another free further downfield, Clyde changed tactic. McLaughlin’s kick was short and quick. The penalty area was flooded with light blue shirts as the ball came in at ground level and David Gormley’s shot was deflected into his own net by Pat Scullion.
Rangers were soon back in front after a high cross from Darren Lavery was headed away for a corner. What followed looked like a rehearsed move involving three passes, Darren starting it off with a short corner to Steven Thomson. It ended with with Thommo successfully aiming just beneath the far post/crossbar intersection. Not quite as stunning as his late goal v. Annan a few weeks earlier but still one to savour. Thomson then tested Gibson with a low drive which the keeper held on the ground at the second attempt.
Clyde pressed strongly on the resumption. After the Higgins’ fall, Gormley tried a lob from beyond the box which was only a few feet too high. Berwick countered by Scullion sending Murrell away to flick on to Rutherford. A good move which ended with Lavery’s shot being blocked.
Walker saved from McLaughlin and, in mid air, used one hand to alter the direction of McNeill’s shot. Gormley threatened when he took the ball into the penalty area but was halted by a great tackle from Notman. Berwick went back the other way launched by another long ball to Murrell and again on to Rutherford. With a defender on his heels, he released a deceptive shot, lacking power and travelling slowly but fast enough to beat Gibson and squeeze in at his near post.
Berwick sub Jordan Orru made a fine tackle on Clyde replacement Mark McKenzie and McLaughlin was inches wide as the Bully Wee continued to have more of second half play. With 8 minutes on the clock, Daniel Watt came on for Murrell as Clyde prepared for another free kick The stoppage in play may have affected home players’ concentration but it didn’t bother the visitors as unchallenged, Gormley headed in McLaughlin’s long kick from by the Ducket touchline.
Desperate defence became the order of the day. McNeill shrugged off Lavery’s attempted tackle before firing too high. Clyde also appealed for a penalty for handball before Gibson came downfield for another McLaughlin corner. Good job it wasn’t a free kick!
Berwick Rangers: Walker, Hamilton, McKinlay, Notman ( McKirdy 88 ), Scullion, Spark, Thomson ( Orru 55 ), Lavery, Rutherford, Murrell ( Watt 82 ), Phillips