Pic: Berwick captain Sam Jones ( left ) and David Verlaque ( right ) chase a Lothian Thistle player ( Photo courtesy of Rae Irvine-Holliday )
Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
East of Scotland City Cup Semi Final
LOTHIAN THISTLE HUTCHISON VALE 2 BERWICK RANGERS 0
With Edinburgh City now in the SPFL, there was no automatic City Cup Final place for Berwick Rangers this season. For this semi final at Saughton Enclosure, Rangers fielded what was effectively their Development team though suspended first teamer Michael McKenna played the opening 35 minutes before retiring lest he aggravate an old knee injury.
There were three bookings, only two of which were for foul play, but the game was more physical than a typical Development League encounter and this, coupled with a very bumpy pitch, made it hard for the Berwick youngsters to play their normal free flowing game. The uneven surface also probably contributed to the many occasions on which the ball went out of play.
Ethan Anderson ( right ) watches closely as a home player tries to control the ball ( Photo courtesy of Rae Irvine-Holliday )
To put matters into some sort of perspective, in their final qualification game to play in this match, East of Scotland League Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale were comfortable 4-0 winners at Lowland league Hawick Royal Albert, Berwick first team’s Scottish Cup conquerors earlier in the season.
The Edinburgh side made the early running winning three corners in a row. Later, Liam O’Donnell squandered a good chance to put the hosts in front after the ball was played his way across goal. Something looked on for Berwick when Daniel Watt raced on to a long ball from Ryan Porteous. He got between two defenders but was thwarted by good goalkeeping by Kevin Swain.Willis Hare was booked for a heavy tackle on Berwick’s David Verlaque whilst Watt picked up a yellow for flattening Dylan Moore near the touchline before Lothian found the net, at the third attempt, in the 42nd minute. Sean Wringe was the scorer after a corner ball was headed on to the bar and an initial follow up shot was blocked.
Though Stephen Scott headed a couple of feet wide of Swain’s post immediately after the restart, LTHV’s attacks generally carried more threat. Wringe got the better of Euan Bauld to send a low ball running dangerously close to Sean Brennan’s line but at the far post, the onrushing Hare only managed to poke it the wrong side of the upright.
Kevin Brown and O’Donnell teamed up, the latter’s shot deflected off Verlaque into the hands of Brennan.On another break forward, O’Donnell cut inside before switching the direction of play leftwards again but the angle was too tight for the supporting Jordan Mungall to do much and Brennan easily saved. Wringe was unlucky to hit the post after Brown sent him through and it took an 88th minute penalty for LTHV to double the margin. Scott Taylor-McKenzie’s kick beat Brennan after Kieran Ingram sent O’Donnell crashing. Ingram wasn’t booked but Sam Jones had been earlier for the manner of his complaint about a throw in decision going the way of the team in stripes.
Rangers tried for a consolation. Jones rode a foul on his way to putting in a low drive but Swain pushed it outside his post for a corner and he made sure of keeping a clean sheet by punching away Verlaque’s stoppage time corner.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, Verlaque, Anderson, Bauld, Cook, K.Scott ( Ingram 66 ), McKenna ( Chapman 35 ), Jones, Watt, S.Scott ( Sutherland 69 ), Porteous
Unused subs: Helm, Allan ( GK )
Estimated attendance: 60