Saturday, April 29th, 2017 SPFL 2
D-Day Looms As Berwick Pick Up A Point With Improved Second Half Display
CLYDE 1 BERWICK RANGERS 1
Supporters in the away section at Broadwood had little cause for optimism at half time. At the end of an uninspiring first half performance, Berwick trailed 1-0. The half closed with Clyde keeper Kyle Gourlay palming away an angled shot from Steven Thomson who had driven into the penalty area and then, despite flapping at the ball, dealt with a corner kick from the same player. Both instances helped convey the impression that Rangers were incapable of scoring.
The game’s opening stages were marked by a series of unsuccessful long shots; Steven Notman, Darren Lavery and twice, Michael McKenna for Berwick with David Gormley firing over from 30 yards for the home side. Rangers’ passing let them down as witnessed when Euan Spark, Notman and Pat Scullion combined only for the skipper to finish off with a pass into empty space up front.
There were near things at either end, Aaron Murrell a foot away from connecting with a good ball in by McKenna and neither of two free Clyde players near the far post able to get a touch to a delivery from home man of the match Scott McLaughlin. Three minutes past the half hour, the ball was lobbed forward to David Goodwillie. Scullion opted to leave Sean Brennan to deal with Clyde’s recent controversial signing. Referee Mike Roncone ruled that the keeper’s challenge, just inside the box, was sufficiently clumsy to award a penalty and Gormley scored from the spot.
Berwick’s build up to their opening attack after the break was excellent but the move ended unthreateningly with Spark’s gentle lob. There was a touch of the surreal when the same Berwick man was fouled inside his own penalty area and home supporters demanded that their team should get a second penalty! Sean Higgins, for informing the referee of his unhappiness that Berwick got the free kick instead, was the only player booked all game.
However, the pattern of play was swinging in Berwick’s direction. Unlike in the first half, free kicks were going Rangers’ way. Thomson was on target with one in the 54th minute but Gourlay caught it with ease. A minute later, he was beaten by Jonny Fairbairn’s header after McKenna took the next one. Gourlay punched out yet another after Chris Smith fouled Lavery. Increasingly, Berwick fans believed their team could go on and win this game encouraged by a great ball from Scullion to match a piece of intelligent running by Greg Rutherford. He held off his marker to get a pass across to McKenna who aimed directly at the keeper. More good passing ended with a less than certain Gourlay using one hand to push away Spark’s cross.
The home team came back and Brennan made two fine saves, one with his foot and the other by stretching to tip McLaughlin’s volley over the bar just as news came in that Forfar had equalised at bottom club Cowdenbeath.
It now developed into end to end stuff. Goodwillie picked out unguarded Philip Johnston on the right but his shot floated over Brennan’s bar. Going the other way, momentarily, Clyde were mere onlookers as Berwick once more passed the ball about with confidence. The hosts were fortunate when Murrell headed Gary Phillips’ cross against the post whilst Berwick were grateful to McKenna for coming all the way back to make a decisive tackle on Peter MacDonald inside Brennan’s area as Clyde counter attacked.
So this coming Saturday, May 6th is D-Day. Berwick are at home to Edinburgh City needing one point to ensure safety. If Berwick lose and Cowdenbeath win at Elgin, then Rangers are doomed as even now, the Fifers have a fractionally better goal difference despite the three points margin between the teams at the foot of the table.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, Spark, Phillips, Notman, Scullion, Fairbairn, Thomson, Lavery, Rutherford, McKenna, Murrell