Cowdenbeath had withdrawn from the Development League East but reversed this decision. Last season, Berwick were well beaten three times by the Blue Brazil boys and with 75 minutes of this game played, and the hosts leading 3-1, few inside Central Park would have anticipated the final outcome.
It was a mixed night for two particular members of the Berwick team. Trust Player of the Year Stevie Notman started a match for the first time in almost six months. Pacing himself over the sixty odd minutes he was on, he said afterwards that he felt fine. In contrast, full back Ali McDonald was in pain following a tackle on Cameron Muirhead and was eventually carried off with a serious ligament injury.
The pitch was noticeably greener than on Berwick’s last visit in May. They had an early chance when gifted the ball with home keeper Shaun Hunter out of position but Andy Russell’s long shot ended too high. At the other end, Kyle Miller hit the bar after making a neat turn inside the box. For the visitors, worse was to come. Soon after Cowdenbeath won their first corner, Liam Callaghan slipped a 15 yard through ball to Muirhead who confidently slotted it just inside the near post for a 16th minute goal.
Muirhead continued to pose a serious threat, not only as a potential scorer but with some creative touches. The hosts regularly tested Rangers’ defence with crosses whereas Berwick tended to keep the ball on the ground. Regan Graham’s shot was wide after McDonald put Daniel Watt into space up on the right and Watt himself was too high with an effort from outside the penalty area.
Following the departure of Rangers’ McDonald, his side endured a burst of heavy pressure. Keeper Jamie Shiel punched away the last of three quick corners but the ball was flicked back towards his goal and then into it off the head of Ryan McDonald. In the remaining ten minutes up to half time, Berwick quickened their tempo and they began to find more space. The closest they came to scoring was when the unmarked Regan Graham rushed forward to meet Charlie Denton’s corner. His header had the power but lacked accuracy.
Berwick were awarded what seemed a soft penalty five minutes after the break. The referee adjudged that Hunter illegally impeded Scott Russell as he manoeuvred to shoot. Denton gave the keeper no chance with the spot kick, firing right down the middle.
This apparent lifeline appeared to be of little value ten minutes later. Having crowded out Rangers’ attack, the Fifers broke forward at speed enabling Callaghan to pick his spot to make it 3-1. Adam Forrest gave a warning that it wasn’t all over when he hit the post from 25 yards before his team were suddenly level.
With less than 15 minutes to go, Watt headed in Denton’s crossfield free kick at the back post and was immediately replaced by Daniel Pattenden. Within 30 seconds of his arrival, he beat Hunter with a fine volley from 14 yards. Rangers might have settled for an unlikely draw, and epitomised by Robert Wilson’s excellent tackle on Muirhead inside the goal area, defended with great resolve.
Well into stoppage time, Berwick launched one more attack down the right. It ended with Denton sweeping the ball into the net to give his team their first win of the season.
Berwick Rangers: Shiel, A.McDonald ( Herriot 29 ), Regan Graham, Notman ( McKay 63 ), Wilson, Forrest, Denton, Hogg ( capt. ), A.Russell, Watt ( Pattenden 76 ), S.Russell
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.