In excess of seventy spectators, twice the average number who would normally see them play, were in Central Park for Berwick’s final Development League game of the season. Berwick were largely untroubled in the opening half hour during which they scored for the only time in three matches against the Blue Brazil in 2014-15.
A ninth minute, 40 yard free kick from Maxim Veyreinc went over the bar. It was awarded after a foul on Zak Khouiel, the first of several conceded by the hosts as they struggled to deal with the French player’s low centre of gravity. The next free was more productive. Taken by Mikail Ozgun, it was again long distance. Daniel Watt got his head to it but there seemed to be no danger as keeper Jamie Sneddon lunged forward to collect the ball. However, he spilled it and a surprised Scott Russell was happy to put it into the net.
Berwick then opened up the home defence as Russell played the ball towards Watt. He let it run on to the nearby Ozgun but the Frenchman with the Turkish name couldn’t hit it and a scoring opportunity was lost. It was to prove costly as Rangers went on to lose two quick goals. On 31 minutes, John Robertson crossed from the right. Keeper Nils Bleakley made a one handed save from Craig Johnston but the ball fell directly into the path of Cameron Muirhead for a simple goal from four yards. A Kyle Mitchell shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Bleakley but Liam Callaghan’s corner was headed in by Johnston sixty seconds after the equaliser.
Minutes from the interval Cowdenbeath’s Ryan McDonald left the field in distress having suffered a dislocated shoulder and was replaced by Craig Brand.
The Brasilians scored their third goal 18 minutes into the second half. Johnston finished well after Berwick centre half Lewis Hamill’s unintended back header helped him on his way. Callaghan created the fourth after beating the defence out on the right before cutting in to supply Johnston for his hat trick.
As typical of the Development team, with the chips down, heads didn’t go down and the boys still attempted to fashion another goal. Charlie Denton made ground and, following a quick exchange of passes with Watt, forced Sneddon into a one-handed save.
In the 85th minute, Muirhead extended the margin to an arguably flattering 5-1 with a gem of a goal from the perimeter of the penalty area. Bleakley had no chance but ahead of the final whistle his foot did prevent Jack Wright making it six.
Even before the game, Berwick were destined to finish eighth out of nine teams but do so nine points clear of bottom side Stenhousemuir. For Cowdenbeath, the prospect remains of overhauling Alloa for runners up spot. All depends on their last game versus Livingston on Monday ( May 11th ).
Berwick Rangers: Bleakley, Hall*, Denton*, Khouiel, Hamill*, Watson ( capt. ), Ozgun* ( Springhall* 51 ), Hamilton* ( Healy* 56 ), Watt*, Veyreinc*, S.Russell* ( Mangala 70 )