The scoreline makes it sound like a punishment but this end of season game against the full time ‘scholars’ of Newcastle United’s Academy under the tutelage of Peter Beardsley was arranged as a reward for Berwick’s Under 20s for their Development League efforts over the last nine months. Whilst conceding it was not good to lose by such a margin, defender Dean McConnell added, “It was a good experience against a good team”, a view shared by Kieran Ingram and Ethan Anderson.
Daniel Watt went into more detail. “A game like this challenges you to play better, to focus more and not switch off. Newcastle made the most of the smallest error and once we lost the ball, it was hard to get it back.”
Newcastle were far and away the best team the young Rangers have met all season. Four Under 21s including Liam Gibson, who has been on the bench for the Magpies’ first team, formed the backbone of the team and played the whole game. The others, including six new faces for the second half, were Under 18s.
Most of the opening 45 minutes were played inside Rangers’ half. They held out for 17 minutes before Sean Longstaff fired home from the right despite keeper Craig Cockburn getting a hand to the ball. He went low to save at the feet of Luke Charman but was beaten again by Longstaff three minutes after the first goal.
Newcastle were taking this game seriously and Charlie Denton’s ankle felt the full force of a tackle from Adam Laidler which caused him to briefly leave the Academy field.
Charman made it three in the 36th minute and two minutes later, Laidler comfortably beat Cockburn from the penalty spot.
Berwick’s one real first half chance came when Watt ended a move with a pass which set up Barry Hogg but goalie Nathan Harker jumped to tip Hogg’s on target shot over his bar. A minute from the half time whistle, Charman smashed home number five.
Berwick got more of a look in after the turnaround. Anderson had more scope to attack and wasn’t far away from scoring after playing a one:two with Watt. On another run down the left, his sleight of foot mimicked some of the home lads but Harry Galloway was positioned too far wide to finish it with a goal.
In the meantime, McKenzie Heaney added two more to the black and whites’ tally before turning provider for Callum Smith to nail the final goal.
In an overstretched Berwick defence, Adam Forrest’s contribution was considerable.
Newcastle were exemplary hosts for a game with a midday kick off. This meant it was all over before the rain came down with a vengeance.
Berwick Rangers: Cockburn (S.Allan 46), Herriot (Galloway 48), Anderson, Forrest, McConnell, Ingram, Denton (Mooney 63), McDonald, Watt, Hogg, Dolan (Hamilton 48)
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.