In weather which would have had Gene Kelly singin’ and dancin’, Berwick Rangers left a soaked Hampden with three valuable points after Darren Lavery hit a 90th minute winner.
The rain was relentless before, during and after the match and a tepid opening twenty minutes could, in part, be put down to the conditions. For most of the remainder of the first half, Queen’s Park had Berwick under the cosh. Manager John Coughlin reacted by packing his defence meaning that, more often than not, when Berwick cleared the ball downfield it was picked up again by a home player to start another build up towards the Berwick end.
At this point, the Spiders looked like a team second in the table not allowing Rangers time on the ball which the visitors were also guilty of giving away through some poor passing. Yet, with the score still 0-0 when George Salmond blew for half time, ‘Coff’ could argue that his tactic worked, Queen’s attack sufficiently stifled for them to create only two real scoring chances. The better of the two fell to Sean Burns. Anticipating he would score, some home fans were already shouting ‘Goal!’ before his shot screamed outside Kevin Walker’s post.
Stevie Notman was booked for a tackle from behind. Minutes later, Michael McKenna too, unnecessarily, after taking umbrage when a Queen’s player kicked the ball away on Berwick winning a throw in.
Dwayne Coultress was substituted at the break following a disappointing first half. Too easily knocked off the ball by more physical opponents, he also looked uncertain about his role when called back for defensive duties.
Berwick changed course again in the second period with more emphasis on attack. Two minutes in, they won their first two corners of the game. Ten minutes later, David Morris tried a low, bouncing shot from distance but it lacked power.
In contrast, Queen’s Park sub Ryan Hynes’ 79th minute 30 yarder was a screecher but too wide to test Walker. The Glasgow men frequently played the ball out to the flanks to Hynes and Paul Woods and they made the Berwick defence work hard. On an occasion when Hynes got past Robert Wilson, the latter kept him under pressure by chasing him into the box allowing Jonny Fairbairn to come across to clear the danger. A good example of the players working for each other. From high in the Hampden stands, it was also clear to see how well Rangers kept their shape.
With most of the Berwick supporters in the 547 crowd probably hoping their team would hold out for an important point, the ball fell to Dylan Stevenson. He drove forward to the edge of the penalty area. Would he advance another couple of yards and have a crack? Instead, he passed to Lavery up on the left. He turned inside defender Bryan Wharton and as he fired a right footed shot into the net, the fifty or so visiting fans rose almost as one in celebration.
Berwick Rangers: Walker, McNeil, Crane, Notman, Wilson, Fairbairn (capt.), F.Graham, Morris, McKenna, Lavery, Coultress (Stevenson 46)
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.