A valiant effort wasn’t enough for Berwick’s youngsters as they exited the Scottish Youth Cup at the first hurdle. In truth, Dunfermline may be grateful for the fact that their season has already started, with the Pars who were favourites prior to kick-off requiring extra-time to see off the challenge of a brave and characterful Berwick side.
Ciaran Lafferty opened the scoring for the hosts on the hour-mark, but Berwick substitute Lloyd Fiddler was able to make an impact when he netted an absolute screamer from 25 yards, finding the top corner with some style. Though the ‘Gers would have fancied their chances having forced an additional 30 minutes, Athletic substitute James Thomas won a 99th minute penalty before dispatching it himself past an unfortunate Sean Brennan, before Callum Smith secured the victory with a third on the brink of the half-time whistle.
A full-match report, courtesy of Dunfermline Athletic can be found below. Please note that all images used in this item are also courtesy of Dunfermline Athletic. The club would like to thank Dunfermline for their hospitality and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the tournament.
Berwick Rangers Team:
XI: Brennan, Bauld, Porteous, Herriot, Orru, Swaney, Jones, Hogg, S. Scott, K. Scott, Chapman.
Subs: Goodfellow (GK), Dolan, Forrest, Watters, Fiddler, McDonald, Henderson.
It took extra-time to settle this first round tie in the 2016/17 Youth Cup, with the young Pars eventually running out 3-1 victors to set up a second round clash with Livingston. After a long overdue strike from Ciaran Lafferty had seemingly sent them on their way, a hesitant defence allowed an equaliser from distance. However, a penalty from Jamrs Thomas and a simple finish from Callum Smith in the first period of additional time settled the matter.
The Pars team was along predictable lines: Cammy Gill was in goals, with Reece Duncan and Conner Duthie as full-backs flanking Stuart Morrison and Paul Allan, who was stepping up from the under 17s. Robbie Crawford and Brandon Luke formed a midfield quartet along with Scott Lochhead and captain Johnny Galloway, and Lafferty and Smith were the striking partnership.
The Pars started brightly with a number of early chances, and it initially seemed that their visitors from south of the border would be in for a long afternoon. However, keeper Brennan did well to block Lafferty’s third minute strike after Duncan’s long range effort had fallen kindly, and the same player missed with a free header five minutes later.
Smith was the next player to spurn a glorious opportunity when set up by Lafferty in 17 minutes, but again Brennan did well to block. The Pars were making good use of Reece Duncan’s ability to get forward from the right back position but with former Par Jordan Orru marshalling a packed Berwick defence, the final ball was lacking.
With half an hour gone, the Pars had another couple of chances – Brennan appeared to be too far off his line but Lafferty couldn’t bring off his attempted chip, before Lochhead’s quick feet set himself up for a chance, but he blazed the ball over the bar.
With Berwick reduced to the odd shot from distance, Gill hadn’t yet made a save, so we were goal-less at the break.
Half time: Dunfermline Athletic 0 Berwick Rangers 0
The early stages of the second period brought little entertainment, although after an onfield communications breakdown between Duthie and Gill the fans were able to hear a forthright exchange of views on the matter.
At the other end, a route one clearance from Gill caused Orru some problems, but Lafferty couldn’t capitalise. That prompted John Potter to make a couple of changes in the 58th minute as Thomas and Evan Horne came on for Crawford and Luke and this impetus brought the goal on the hour, when Horne’s pass inside the full back allowed Duncan to hit the bye-line and his cut back was finished from seven yards by LAFFERTY.
It should have been two three minutes later when the Pars hit on the break after defending a corner, Smith outpacing the defence but this time Duncan, who had matched his run, shot against the outside of the post.
Any expectations that the tie was now won were soon dashed as Berwick equalised in the 73rd minute – there didn’t appear to be much danger, but the substitute was given time and space 25 yards out which he used to his advantage when shooting into the postage stamp corner – a top class strike.
With Berwick making their third change, John Potter mixed things up by switching to a 4-3-3 formation, moving Thomas forward, but this had little immediate effect. Orru defended well when Duthie sent in a late, inswinging free-kick, and there were some nervous moments when Berwick won a late corner, but three minutes’ stoppage time came and went and extra time was required.
Score after 90 minutes: Dunfermline Athletic 1-1 Berwick Rangers
With the players remaining on the pitch, the coaches’ team talks could be overheard, and it was clear that Berwick fancied their chances. An early corner nearly found its way beyond Gill at the back post but Allen was well positioned to head clear.
However, we got another goal, and it was at the other end – Smith fed Duncan on the overlap, and Thomas drew the challenge from his cut-back to earn a penalty. THOMAS took it himself and drove it low into the right hand corner, just beyond the keeper’s grasp.
Berwick looked to hit back, allowing the Pars to hit on the break, when Duthie’s run from defence was ended illegally. The free-kick was delivered into the box and keeper Sweeney appeared to have control, only to let the ball slip underneath his body, and SMITH had the simplest of tasks to score into the open goal.
That was half time in extra time, and with players tiring, there were chances for more goals. Thomas had another opportunity but shot too close to the keeper, and Orru, who was galloping forward in a desperate attempt to get the wee Rangers back in the tie saw a header drift past the far post.
However, the Pars now had the game won, and were able to run the clock down to a successful conclusion.