Finn Graham’s introduction with 30 minutes remaining pepped up Berwick Rangers against Clyde in Cumbernauld ( Photo courtesy of David Glencross )
CLYDE 2 BERWICK RANGERS 1 ( Saturday, February 20th, 2016 )
Not so much a game of two halves, more one in which the final 30 minutes
were markedly different from the opening hour. Berwick were 2-0 down at
half time and in the quarter of an hour immediately afterwards, did
little to suggest they might be able to turn things round. That all
changed with a double substitution after 60 minutes.
With Kevin Walker suspended, Mark Walters started in goal in the SPFL
for only the second time. In a potential nightmare for commentators,
Marc Waters, on loan from Partick Thistle, was between the posts for
Clyde. Jordan McGregor returned after a one match ban with Berwick
skipper Jonny Fairbairn dropping to the bench in the only other change
to the eleven which kicked off against Annan in midweek.
Inside the first minute, Ewan McNeil clattered into David Gormley,
perhaps a warning to the Clyde man not to expect such an easy ride as
when he bagged four goals at Shielfield in November. Once he shook off
the effects of this early landfall, Gormley and strike partner John
Gemmell proved a handful for the visiting defence with big John often
more than a match for Brian Martin in the air.
Clyde threatened after only five minutes. An exchange of passes between
Ross Millen finished with Scott Linton’s shot curling just outside the
far post. When Michael McKenna attempted a hefty swipe at the ball, he
connected instead with Sean Higgins. The free kick was headed on towards
Chris Smith but the beefy defender was too fast on to the ball and sent
it screaming over the bar.
As the opening half hour drew to a close, Gemmell hit the post. Berwick
then conceded two goals inside a minute. Linton’s was from the spot. The
linesman signalled to referee Mike Taylor that Martin handled and play
was brought back for Linton to send Walters the wrong way. Martin was
booked for protesting against the decision.
Linton, who was judged home man of the match, set up the second goal
with a cross from near the touchline to the unmarked Gemmell who netted
with a low header.
Rangers more promising first half moves usually died because of a poor
final pass. As a result, they only got two serious sniffs at goal both
from Darren Lavery. One shot was high, the other wide.
Clyde pressed again on the restart but there was a dramatic change with
the introduction of Finn Graham and Dylan Stevenson who infused new life
into the team. Berwick made space with more incisive passing helped by
Clyde’s bigger men beginning to tire.
Waters made a number of good saves, the first from a Graham corner
before the ball was kicked off the line. He saved with his legs from
Graham and then he tipped another shot from the same player over his
bar. He was beaten in the 69th minute by McNeil’s volley from well
outside the box.
With Gormley missing a sitter a little earlier and realising their team
was in danger of losing its lead, the home fans were now sweating.
Stevie Notman chested down another Graham corner before firing over the
top. Moments after Clyde replaced the popular but flagging Marvin
Andrews with ex-Berwick player Michael Bolochoweckyj, Waters saved sub
Sandy Cunningham’s header.
At the other end, Walters kept his side in the game, diving to deny
Gemmell with a terrific one-handed save. But with traffic mainly flowing
in the other direction, Waters once more saved from Cunningham. Lavery
tried one last throw of the dice from 30 yards but as the ball finished
wide so did Rangers’ hopes of salvaging a draw.
Berwick Rangers: Walters, McNeil, Crane, Notman, Wilson, McGregor,
Lavery, A.Walker ( Stevenson 60 ), McKenna ( F.Graham 60 ), Henderson (
Cunningham 77 ), Martin