When Ian Little sat his players down in the dressing room after Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Clyde, I hope the first thing he asked them was “How the hell did we only manage a draw with that bunch?”, because once again, Rangers’ inability to kill off an inferior team produced a travesty of a result. And therein lies the Berwick Rangers paradox – a team that plays good football and is easy on the eye, but that maybe just isn’t good enough, or clinical enough, to convert good performances into the number of wins that make the difference between a top 4 spot and the no-mans land in the middle-to-lower reaches of the division.
The stats from Saturday bear that theory out. Clyde had 3 shots on target and scored with all of them, astonishing testament to their efficiency. Marc McCallum, making his home debut in Rangers’ goal, didn’t have a single save to make over the 90 minutes. I still haven’t a clue whether he’s any good or not, because there was nothing he could do about Clyde’s 3 goals and wasn’t otherwise tested. It’s not that Rangers defended particularly badly either, so maybe there was freakish element to the scoreline too.
After getting the better of last week’s draw against a resurgent Peterhead at Balmoor, Rangers started brightly, McDonald clipping a low shot inches wide of Barclay’s goal in the 2nd minute. With Clyde’s midfield doing a cracking impression of The Invisibles, Lee Currie bossed the wide open spaces but too often during the opening stages, Darren Lavery was left isolated or forced to peel wide to collect the ball, leaving Rangers short-handed through the middle. With excruciating inevitability, Clyde scored first after having shown nothing that suggested they were a serious football team. Damien Gielty was wrongly adjudged to have clipped Watt on the edge of McCallum’s penalty area and veteran Lee Sharp curled a beauty of a free kick into the top right corner. Barclay inadvertently kept Brydon’s goal-bound header out with his foot and Townsley bulleted a free header over the bar when he should have scored, before Lavery’s deflected shot bounced off the inside of the post and was cleared before McLaren could stab home the rebound on the stroke of half time.
A hitherto quiet Dylan Easton burst into life straight from the restart to change the complexion of the game. In the 46th minute, he broke down Clyde’s left flank, outstripped the defence and squared to Lavery for a tap-in. Three minutes later he brilliantly created space down the right and dinked in a perfect cross for McLaren to thump a close range header past Barclay. Out of the blue, Sweeney slotted a low shot past McCallum from Watt’s neat pass in the 58th minute, before Lavery restored Rangers’ lead in the 63rd minute with a stunning near post header from McLaren’s superb right-wing cross. Lyden’s brave block kept out Currie’s goal-bound thunderbolt, and the introduction of McGachie gave Clyde a genuine attacking edge for the first time in the match. Despite that, Rangers looked well capable of winning the match but they were caught out again in the 78th minute when Scullion clipped McColm’s lay off beyond McCallum for another bloody equaliser. Rangers huffed and puffed during the final minutes but were unable to prise open a Clyde outfit that looked delighted with the draw.
Rangers face an intense sequence of games during the next few weeks, now that the 3 re-arranged home games have been factored in to the mix. A top 4 spot remains within reach, but they need to step up from putting in watchable performances to delivering winning performances. They have the players to do it, though the restoration of Stevie Notman to central midfield will add dynamism and Kevin McDonald looks in need of a rest at left midfield.
McCallum 5; Jacobs 6; Brydon 7; Townsley 7; Gielty 7; McLaren 6; Currie 8; Janczyk 5; McDonald 5; Easton 7; Lavery 8
Crowd – 507