Pic: Early goal celebrations for the Berwick players (courtesy of Ian Runciman)
BERWICK RANGERS 2 QUEEN’S PARK 3
Berwick Rangers made the best possible start to to a match in which, despite the eventual narrow margin, they went on to be outplayed by a team a division higher in the SPFL. Less than a minute had passed when Darren Lavery tore up the left before passing across to Greg Rutherford who went on to beat goalkeeper William Muir.
Rangers continued to look good until dealt a blow after eight minutes. Queen’s were awarded a penalty after a free kick was swung over from the right. The reason was a mystery to many spectators. Afterwards, home skipper Pat Scullion explained that referee Gavin Ross had indicated that Keiran Stewart had pulled a Queen’s Park shirt. There was no appeal for a spot kick but Scullion’s protestations were brushed aside. Ross Millen duly netted.
Berwick tried to renew momentum but in one way or another, the visitors’ defence put paid to assorted efforts from Lavery, Andrew Irving and Stewart. Berwick then had a narrow escape on 21 minutes. Anton Brady cut inside and raced along the bye line. Kevin Waugh was first to react to the ball he sent across, his attempted clearance going in the wrong direction, ricocheting off Robby McCrorie’s bar.
Another crucial incident soon afterwards was to deal the Black and Gold a further blow. Scullion went up for the ball with David Green. Both needed attention and on the half hour Pat admitted defeat and limped off. The obvious replacement seemed to be Jonny Fairbairn in a straight swap for Scullion at the heart of the defence. Instead, boss John Coughlin opted to bring on Steven Thomson. Waugh moved into the middle with Chris McDonald dropping back to fill his original spot. Two minutes later, another ball from the right produced a second goal for Queen’s. Quick as lightning, Brady got in between the unsuspecting Jack Cook and Oliver Fleming to score with a header. Before 40 minutes was reached, the Spiders scored again. McDonald was unable to secure the ball and home players backed off enabling David Galt to sidle leftwards to exactly where he wanted to be to release a successful shot.
As the second half progressed, it remained obvious that the Glasgow side were a far sharper outfit than an admittedly young Berwick team. It seems hard to believe that players such as Brady and Bryan Wharton are playing as amateurs. Ewan MacPherson was also on fire as he closed in on goal. McCrorie rushed out to attempt to stop him but Fleming stepped in to diffuse the situation with a great tackle. Brady shrugged off two would be tacklers but the resulting shot from Michael Bailey was wide. Close in, Galt supplied William Mortimer, McCrorie somehow managing to get hold of the ball right on his line.
With ten minutes left, Fairbairn eventually joined the fray and and a few minutes on, Berwick unexpectedly got back into the game. When McDonald crossed from the left, feet and the ball were everywhere. Eventually, Aaron Murrell got a strike but Muir stopped it. However, the ball ran free and Thomson scrambled it in. For a short spell, Rangers played with renewed zest before Queen’s came back. Galt decided to play keepy up as he sauntered over to take a short corner and was consequently booked for time wasting. His team almost paid the price for trying to keep the ball in that part of the field when Rangers broke downfield. Thomson crossed, Murrell got a touch, Muir missed the ball but was saved by the absence of any other home player.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Fleming, Waugh, Lavery, Rutherford ( Fairbairn 80 ), Irving, Stewart, Donaldson, Cook ( Murrell 46 ), McDonald, Scullion (Thomson 30 )