Celtic B vs BRFC

Ten man Berwick endured a frustrating afternoon as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Celtic B. 

Ben Quinn’s brave finish just after the hour mark was the difference between the sides after Jamie Stevenson was sent off just before half time.

Thomas Scobbie made five alterations to the side that lost at Cumbernauld Colts in midweek with the experienced Callum Antell, Jamie McCormack, Dougie Hill, Liam Buchanan and Stevenson all returning in place of Thomas Kay, Grant Nelson, Alex Harris, Richard Tambwe and Cammy Graham. 

The young Celts were unbeaten in 2024 and certainly started like a side that hadn’t tasted defeat in some time. Their football was crisp and precise, if a little risk-averse, on the excellent surface at Excelsior Stadium. 

The chances weren’t especially quick to come for the hosts despite their nice passing. Lewis Dobbie and Ben Quinn both had efforts that weren’t particularly troubling and it would be 20 minutes before they created a good chance. 

Good work down the left from Celtic got Andrew Kyle to the byline and he delivered a cross into the area. It just evaded the head of Hill but was perfect for Dobbie six yards out but his header was too close to Antell and saved easily. 

Berwick had held on for the first part of the match but slowly started to build themselves into it and created a good opportunity after half an hour. Buchanan pulled wide to the left and managed to deliver a good ball in for Jackson Mylchreest but his header was right at Joe Morrison. 

That would be as good as it got for Berwick in the first half as the game changed just before the break. Celtic broke on the right and played the ball to Thomas Hatton who appeared to have strayed just offside. The flag stayed down and, when the attack fizzled out, a number of Berwick players asked questions of the decision. The referee, who had already brandished five yellow cards in a first half that was barely simmering, then decided that it would be Stevenson who would receive the yellow for dissent. Having picked up an earlier booking for a late challenge, Stevenson took an early bath much to the bemusement of team mates and his manager, whose attempt to speak to the referee going into the tunnel was met with a dismissive wave of the hand before it could even begin. 

Berwick were stunned and should really have been behind less than a minute later. Good work down the right eventually saw Daniel Cummings get the ball on the half turn but the forward hit his shot at Antell who tipped over smartly. 

The feeling of injustice helped spur Berwick onto a spirited start in the second half with Callum Mackay driving forward from halfway before opting to shoot when he had options either side. The centre half was then called on to do his day job, flinging himself in front of Quinn’s shot in the box before Berwick had a huge chance. 

More good play out wide from Buchanan saw him send a wonderful ball in for Mylchreest but Celtic substitute Colby Donovan managed to get back and head it behind. From the resulting corner, Jordan Sinclair’s ball was met by Hill with a towering header but it couldn’t beat the Celtic captain Mitchell Robertson on the line and it would prove to be a critical block. 

Celtic won a free kick on the corner of the box and worked it quickly to Bruno Davidson. The substitute’s low ball was a beauty and Quinn came steaming in at the back post to turn it home, colliding with the goal in the process. 

Berwick didn’t let that dishearten them too much but it was always going to be tough with ten men. Sinclair stung Morrison’s palms with a free kick after Mylchreest had run 60 yards with the ball to win it while another three or four balls into the box wouldn’t quite fall right for Berwick.

The danger came on the counter from Celtic. Both Blair Sneddon and Scott Bright were called on to make crucial interventions to stop counters while Dobbie had a free header in the area that he could only glance wide. There would be one final chance though.

With a minute to go, Berwick sent another set piece into the Celtic box. The home side couldn’t fully clear and it fell to Buchanan who played a lovely through ball to substitute Cammy Graham. He was well onside but his near post effort was saved by the feet of Morrison. 

It wasn’t to be in the end for Berwick who will feel aggrieved about the standard of the refereeing but Celtic certainly created enough to win this game.

It will be two weeks until Berwick are next in action with a return to Shielfield as we welcome Gretna.