Partick Thistle 1
Berwick Rangers 3
Gray 33, Noble 73, P Currie 79 (pen)
by Keith Hamblin
FOLLOWING on the success of their Challenge Cup win over Clyde last weekend, Berwick made it a quick-fire double when they beat Partick Thistle in the first round of the League Cup at Firhill on Saturday.
Despite their penalty shoot-out victory over the ‘Bully Wee,’ Rangers returned to Glasgow as underdogs for this fixture against what many would consider to be a far more experienced Jags’ side.
But no one in the 1,200 plus crowd could deny Berwick their victory, which on the face of it will have a few teams in the third division sitting up and taking note.
Some will point out that Partick only finished the game with nine men, but the third and killer goal came about as a result of the second sending off.
The return of last year’s leading scorer, Darren Gribben, just a few days earlier, had no doubt given the rest of the squad a boost.
But he was left on the bench for this match, only turning in a cameo six minute appearance at the end in place of Damon Gray, who bagged his second goal in successive games.
Rangers could also have recalled central defender Chris Townsley after he missed last week’s opener due to work commitments, but he too was left on the bench with Andy McLean teaming up with Chris McLeod in the heart of the back four.
After meeting, and losing, twice to Partick in each of the last two seasons, many of the Berwick fans could have been forgiven if they had thought ‘here we go again’ when Paul Cairney headed the home side into the lead after 28 minutes following a perfect delivery by Chris Erskine.
But just five minutes later the battling Rangers were back on level terms, Gray flicking in a cross from Stuart Noble after 33 minutes.
Gray might have had another but he was hauked down on the edge of the box by Paul Paton who was shown a straight red.
Noble put Berwick ahead with a fine strike after 73 minutes and six minutes later they put the result virtually beyond doubt when Paul Currie netted from the penalty spot after Conrad Balatoni had been dismissed for a challenge on Noble.
Down to nine men there was no way back for Thistle, but Berwick themselves failed to end the match with a full compliment of players as new signing Kevin McDonald was sent off in the 80th minute after picking up a second yellow card.
That was the only negative from the game, as overall, this was a fine performance by Berwick.
Just a couple of weeks ago The Borderers looked as if they were struggling to put together a competitive side and very few of the black and gold faithful could ever have imagined that they would kick off with back to back cup wins, both away from home, and one of them at Partick.
Partick: Fox, Sinclair, Kinniburgh, Balatoni, Paton, Cairney (Robertson 81), Flannigan (Bannigan 74), Rowson, Stewart, Erskene (Campbell 49), Doohlan.
Berwick: Barclay, Walker, Thomson, McLean, McLeod, L Currie, P Currie, McLaren (D Smith 84) Gray (Gribben (84) Noble, McDonald.
Referee: Steven McLean.
Berwick Rang Res 0
Dunfermline U19s 4
Berwick went into this match on the back of a 2-1 midweek away victory over Tranent Juniors and with experienced first-teamer David Greenhill in midfield, but it was the visitors who created the early chances.
They almost went ahead after barely 20 seconds. A Lewis Knight error allowed Steven Leslie to home in from the left but he shot across Wood’s goal, then a Conor Schiavone header flashed just wide after he met a well-flighted cross from the right.
Following a mazy run, Danny O’Rourke set up Darren Lavery for Rangers’ best chance of the game but the ex-Leith Athletic man shot wide.
Dunfermline had the edge in pace and were sharper in the tackle. Yet, a first half stalemate looked likely until a minute before the break, Berwick gave away the ball, a problem which afflicted them throughout the match. Schiavone took advantage to put the Fifers in front.
A flurry of activity in the Berwick goal area saw Connor Wood make two saves in quick succession before Andrew Renton cleared off the line. From the resultant corner, Kerr Young doubled Dunfermline’s lead.
Soon after the hour mark, Paul Willis made it three from the penalty spot. Allan Smith wrapped it up for the young Pars on eighty minutes after Berwick once more gifted them possession.
A Greenhill pass provided Lavery with a late opportunity to claim a Berwick consolation goal but again the young marksman was off target.