Berwick Rangers Under 20s returned to New Central Park in Kelty where they drew with Cowdenbeath in September. It turned out to be a lively, unpredictable game with some unlikely goals. The lead changed hands three times.
Berwick included Jordan Orru and Michael McKenna who were in the starting eleven for the first team’s ill-fated Scottish Cup tie with Hawick Royal Albert the previous Saturday. McKenna, currently suspended for League 2 matches, was unable to complete this one after going down with an ankle injury seven minutes from the end. He played a big part in Berwick’s first goal after only four minutes. A thumping free kick by Lewis Swaney sent the ball towards the Raith goal. Seconds later, via the underside of the bar, Sam Jones headed in McKenna’s perfectly flighted chip.
Over the first half, Raith’s attacks were the more direct and this paid off with two goals inside four minutes. Stuart Allan saved an initial shot from a pacy trialist centre forward but the equally swift Yaw Osei was spot on with the second attempt. In the 15th minute, Euan Valentine got the better of Ewan Herriot near the bye line and delivered across for the number nine to score. The trialist then shook the bar with a powerful free kick and was the middle man of three in a raid for which the bobbing ball on the plastic surface was largely to blame for Osei’s failure to finish.
The 38th minute goal which brought Rangers back into contention was something of an oddity. Daniel Watt stooped to head Ally McDonald’s corner. The ball hit the back of his neck but travelled in the right direction. Raith’s keeper picked it up but referee Kyle Hall agreed with Berwick claims that he was behind his line when doing so and pointed to the centre spot. Rovers hardly had time to digest this one before Berwick struck again. The hosts gave away possession to McKenna just outside the penalty area. Mikey still had a man to beat but he protected the ball well before slipping it past the trialist in goal.
The Fife team levelled again eleven minutes into the second half. Osei was at the far post as McLeod sent over a long cross. Allan should have taken the ball but let it slip under his arms and into the net. Rangers went on the offensive and the seventh goal of the game swung things their way. Orru powered up the left and between the corner flag and goal beat his man. A pass seemed likely. Instead, he fired a bullet shot into the far corner of the goal.
Ten minutes later, Berwick added another. Now looking susceptible to fast forays, the home side lost the ball near the centre circle. Herriot pumped it forward.Watt comfortably won the race to reach it and finished in style. Stephen Scott soon followed suit after Watt used his chest to flick on a long punt from keeper Allan.
With Berwick bottling up their opponents in midfield, Raith were finding it harder to unleash their fast men. Allan helped to keep the game in the bag by throwing himself about to deal with the chances they did have including a hit from the trialist striker which took a deflection off a Berwick player and a snap shot from James Collins. In addition, Osei hit the post with a long, low diagonal strike.
The win puts Rangers back on top of the SPFL Development League East, one point ahead of Alloa Athletic. Next up are Ian Little’s Livingston who visit Shielfield next Monday night, October 31st, kick off 7:45 pm.
Berwick Rangers: Allan, McDonald, Orru, Herriot, Swaney, Hogg, S.Scott, Jones (capt.) (Ingram 70), Watt, McKenna (Watters 83), Dolan (Porteous 64)
Unused subs: K.Scott, Dickson, Anderson, Helm
Match Report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.