Report: Kilmarnock 4-1 Berwick Rangers

Darren Lavery, Berwick Rangers

Darren Lavery scored a fine equaliser for the ‘Gers

Battling Berwick bowed out of the Scottish League Cup in the second round after three goals in the final 20 minutes saw Kilmarnock safely through.

Kris Boyd put Killie ahead from the spot midway through the first half before Darren Lavery netted a fantastic leveller for the ‘Gers ten minutes after the break.

But increasing pressure eventually told as first Rory McKenzie, then Craig Slater and a stunning long range strike from Kallum Higginbotham ensured victory for the Scottish Premier League outfit.

With the home side winless and rooted to the bottom of the SPL on two points from five games, Berwick sniffed an opportunity from kick-off and started like a side brimming with confidence following Saturday’s 3-1 victory away at Stirling Albion.

Blair Henderson, who netted his fourth goal of the season at Forthbank, sliced wide inside three minutes after being put through by Dwayne Coultress before Michael McKenna tried his luck from distance following a smart pass from player-boss Colin Cameron, only to see his well-struck shot fizz narrowly past the post.

But after going closest to opening the scoring for the ‘Gers, McKenna conceded a penalty in the 17th minute while tracking back and Boyd stepped up to nestle the spot kick into the bottom corner.

The ex-Rangers man could’ve easily made it two straight from kick-off, heading just over the bar after a cross from the right, while Lavery forced Jamie MacDonald into a fingertip save after weaving his way into the box.

Aside from that though, the ‘Gers did extremely well to keep the deficit to one at the break as Boyd – who proved a handful all night – rattled a shot off the post before rising above Kevin Walker to head goalward, only for Graeme Beveridge to clear off the line, while Arron Splaine and McKenzie also spurned great chances.

Buoyed by being just one goal down, Berwick pressed again early in the second half with Kieran Ainslie seeing his header from Ewan McNeil’s free-kick saved, before Lavery grabbed the all-important equaliser and his second of the season on 55 minutes.

Receiving a pass from Henderson, the striker drove forward and launched a powerful left-footed strike past MacDonald from 20 yards before running across to celebrate with the 40-strong Berwick supporters.

The lead lasted no longer than 15 minutes though as, after Walker had produced a stunning save and Cameron had made two excellent goal-line clearances, Splaine squared for McKenzie in the box and he picked his spot past the returning ‘Gers keeper.

Slater added a third with 13 minutes remaining, although the offside Boyd was somehow deemed not to be interfering with play despite blocking the run of the backtracking Jonny Fairbairn, before substitute Higginbotham wrapped things up with a wonderful 30-yard strike.

By Martin Inglis