Former loanee Jack Hamilton was among the goalscorers for Livingston
Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 SPFL Reserve League 2
Shielfield Park, Berwick
BERWICK RANGERS RESERVES 0 LIVINGSTON RESERVES 9
Former Berwick loan players Callum Crane and Jack Hamilton were included in a Livingston line up which contained five first team squad members. Rangers were two goals down at half time, Livi effectively killing off the home challenge with another couple inside the first two minutes of the second half before going on to overrun the Shielfield youngsters with another five inside the final twenty five minutes.
Berwick worked hard in defence to contain early Livingston pressure but just after trialist Andrew Dempster hobbled off after only 14 minutes to be replaced by Rhys Bloomfield, the visitors opened their account. Keeper Stuart Allan got a touch to a long shot from the right by EGIL KAJA but couldn’t stop it going in close to his near post. Ten minutes later, Allan saved an angled shot from Matthew Knox but straight after the ensuing corner, from a more central position, Albania-born Kaja struck again. However, it was BOBBY BURNS who claimed the goal, the ball hitting him before it hit the net.
Allan rushed out to thwart Hamilton as he took a through ball from Kaja. With rain beginning to fall, Burns hit the side netting and soon saw another shot float over the bar. With Livi maintaining pressure, Bruce McCrorie forced Hamilton to aim wide, the Berwickshire lad also off target with an attempted long drive.
Berwick created two first half chances. Past the half hour, Marc Molloy won back the ball to send a short pass to Kieran Jack but Jordan Pettigrew had little trouble holding his shot. In contrast, seconds from the break, the bar came to the Livingston keeper’s rescue when Grant Rose rose to head Callum Ashford’s cross.
Soon after referee Peter Stuart signalled the start of the second period and with the rain having eased, the visitors increased their lead with a curling shot from KNOX from outside the area. KAJA, who had operated on the left in the first half, remained on the Main Stand side of the pitch from where he worked his way inside to unleash a shot which took a deflection off a home player before nestling in the net.
Jack and Rose broke for Berwick, Pettigrew saving from the latter with his knees before Livingston’s late goal glut began. Following some frantic home defending, Allan made a one handed save from Hamilton. From the resulting corner, trialist MATTHEW O’CONNOR had the misfortune to back head the ball into his own goal. Allan also stopped another Kaja shot but with no support from defenders inside the box, HAMILTON was free to knock in his only goal of the night on 70 minutes.
The West Lothian side’s greater physical strength as well as their superior skill was really beginning to tell and BURNS got his second in the 73rd minute. He went on to secure his hat trick with a 78th minute penalty after Hamilton tumbled inside the box. That was three goals in five minutes for in between, JACK McMILLAN netted after the home defence was once again split open.
Livingston are the only Scottish Premiership club with a team in Reserve League 2. No argument they were deserved and impressive winners. But when the decision was made to scrap Development Leagues and bring back Reserves so that younger players could benefit from playing regularly against more experienced men, was this really the sort of outcome the decision makers had in mind?
Berwick Rangers: Allan, Ashford, Smith, O’Connor ( T ), McCrorie, Murray ( capt. ), Jack ( D.Purves 66 ), Dempster ( T ) ( Bloomfield 14 ( Campbell ( T ) 74 ), Rose, ( Briggs 74 ), Molloy, Windram ( Blair 66 )
T = Trialist