Monday, April 3rd, 2017
SPFL Development League East
BERWICK RANGERS 0 RAITH ROVERS 2
The two goal margin of defeat may have been the same but unlike in their previous meeting on the same ground exactly a week earlier, there was no doubt that Berwick were beaten by a well organised, all round more physical Raith side already smelling the scent of the league title. Berwick’s loss means an end to their own aspirations to finish as champions but with two home games left against the Athletics of Alloa and Forfar, they can still clinch runners up spot and can be rightly proud of their season.
Berwick made six changes to the previous week’s starting eleven, Raith half as many. Crucially, one of them was the inclusion, as a permitted overage player, of former Albion Rovers man Bobby Barr in the number 11 shirt.
The match was marked by two early penalties, some observers believing that neither should have been given. At best it was a 50:50 call when referee Evan Cairns decided that Jonny Fairbairn had fouled Jonny Court just inside the penalty area but the ‘victim’ made no mistake with the spot kick to give Rovers a 4th minute lead.
Thirteen minutes later, and again close to the edge of the box, Yaw Osei was ruled to have been the cause of Daniel Watt’s fall to the ground. The Raith player’s cry of “I did not touch him!” was loud and clear so for him, justice was done when Rory Brian saved from Jamie Henderson and then saw the penalty taker’s attempt to score from the rebound fly over the bar.
Rovers continued to look sharp and Barr, a traditional style winger, got away up the left before putting in a cross from which Scott Roberts missed right in front of goal. Osei popped up on Barr’s flank to send over another cross, this time, Ryan Stevenson hitting the bar.
Good work from Watt and Scott Sutherland created a chance for Sam Jones at the other end but the man wearing the captain’s armband, shot wide and soon, Raith doubled their lead. Barr jinked his way forward before releasing a superbly judged lob over stretching Grant Goodfellow into the far top corner of the goal. Rangers’ keeper fared better, showing good anticipation to come out to palm away Osei’s shot after the former Reading player cut in from the right wing.
Berwick brought on Kyle Scott for the second half and he ran his legs off starting early when he latched on to a long ball and got between two defenders but ultimately fired outside the far post. Ryan Porteous glanced a Kyle corner away from goal as Berwick hinted that, refreshed from the interval, they could get back into the game. Raith didn’t take the hint and were soon pressurising the hosts anew. Court was blocked after the ball bounced kindly for him. The resulting corner was headed out but the ball was retuned via a long cross which was deflected off the post for another kick by the flag. Fairbairn was booked for body checking Stevenson, Goodfellow turning the awkward free kick round his post.
After Kyle Scott’s determination won him back the ball, Jones attempted to imitate Barr by lobbing Brian but the Aussie keeper, who was sound all night, rose to the challenge. He next punched out Jamie Chapman’s free kick after watching from afar as Goodfellow dived to make a one handed save from Kieran Dall.
With two minutes remaining of normal time, Jack Cook up in attack and all Raith players inside their own half, Callum Helm finally got the ball in the net for Berwick only for the Stand Side linesman to flag for offside. Right at the end, the Fifers missed a golden chance to make it 3-0 with an arrow shaped move started by Stevenson to Court and on to James Collins at the opposite post from where the young sub scooped the ball too high.
Raith are almost sure of finishing top though theoretically could still be pipped by Forfar on goal difference. Next Wednesday, April 12th, Berwick are due to meet Alloa with another Shielfield kick off of 7:45 p.m.
Berwick Rangers: Goodfellow, Herriot, Orru, Fairbairn, Cook, Chapman, Sutherland ( Helm 66 ), Jones, Watt, Henderson ( K.Scott 46 ), Porteous ( S.Scott 80 )