Saturday, February 10th, 2018 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 0 CLYDE 1
Did he slip during his run up or did he deliberately dummy? Did he touch the ball twice? These were amongst the questions asked by home supporters as the ball nestled in the bottom corner of Robby McCrorie’s net after the last kick of the match, a penalty taken by Clyde’s David Goodwillie. Should it have been a penalty? Referee Stephen Brown clearly thought so, the wily Goodwillie fouled by Jamie Todd as he manoeuvred inside the box as the visitors launched one final attack. The ref seemed less certain about whether the goal should stand showing split second hesitation before pointing to the centre spot and then immediately blowing for time.
Berwick players felt Goodwillie had not acted within the laws of the game and as Clyde celebrated as if they had won the Cup, Rangers assistant manager David Burrell was on the field seeking clarification from the man with the whistle.
Whether everything was legitimate or not, the result was cruel luck for a Berwick team who would have deserved the point that seemed destined to be theirs until that final blow. The win maintained Clyde’s current good run and puts them two points above Berwick in the table with a game in hand. Rangers drop to third bottom but remain 14 points clear of last placed Cowdenbeath.
Berwick boss Robbie Horn was without Keiran Stewart and Gary Phillips both suspended after being sent off at Stenhousemuir the previous week. Jack Cook and Jordan Orru filled their respective places to form a back four along with Jamie Todd, in his first start for Berwick, and Robert Wilson back after injury. Late on, Wilson was again hurt making a touchline tackle but saw out the game at the behest of the manager keen to avoid disruption to a defensive combination which had acquitted itself well. Also missing from the team which lost at Ochilview were the injured Alex Petkov and Ousman See but fit again Steven Notman returned to midfield and captaincy.
Most of the early threat came from Clyde and in the 12th minute Chris McStay was only denied by a flying save from McCrorie. When Aaron Millar played the ball through to Goodwillie it was the keeper’s legs which stopped him scoring with an angled shot. Next time, Goodwillie, unmarked, could only manage a poor stab at a low cross from the right.
One thing Berwick didn’t lack was commitment. Just past the half hour both Todd and Wilson got in headers following a Paul Willis free kick but the ball drifted away from Blair Currie’s goal. Darren Lavery sent Orru tearing forward, the move only breaking down once he was inside the penalty area. Rangers’ most menacing shot of the first half came after good approach work by Jack Hamilton, Currie initially spilling Steven Thomson’s strike from 25 yards.
Opening the second half on the attack, Berwick won a couple of free kicks both of which ended up safely in Currie’s arms. Not much more of note happened until after the hour when Martin McNiff headed a corner ball back in the direction from which it came. Though Hamilton hit the side netting after the ball came to Lavery off the referee’s legs, Rangers’ defence was now the busier. Within seconds of each other both Notman (for a foul ) and Lavery ( for dissent ) were booked. McCrorie fisted out the free kick which had so annoyed Lavery. He also beat Goodwillie to the ball when Raymond Grant posted it over towards the far post. The resulting corner was cleared as far as Mark Lamont whose powerful shot from outside the area sailed only a fraction over the bar. It was followed by the announcement that yet again, McCrorie had been chosen as the sponsor’s home man of the match.
Clyde had an escape when Thomson took Currie by surprise with a challenge that saw the ball run loose. A second successive goalless draw between the teams looked ever more likely until the dramatic ending to a match which, what it lacked in quality was sufficiently engrossing to deter spectators from leaving early. Thus virtually all of the 474 crowd were still there to witness the much discussed finale.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Orru, Notman, Thomson, Lavery, Willis, O’Kane, Cook, Wilson, Hamilton ( Murrell 70 ), Todd
Pictures courtesy of Ian Runciman