Berwick Rangers 2, Clyde 1: BERWICK maintained their unbeaten home league record when they came from behind to beat ten-man Clyde at Shielfield on Saturday.
Rangers, who now face the prospect of three successive away league and cup games, knew that a victory was vital if they were to hammer home their hopes of keeping pace with the sides at the top of the third division.
That’s why the decision to leave midfield engine-room man Lee Currie on the bench seemed a strange one to some fans.
But the Borderers played the better football throughout, they looked the more inventive of the two sides and there was no denying that at the end of the day they thoroughly deserved their victory, which enabled them to leapfrog their opponents in the table and climb up to fifth.
The most agonising thing for fans was that despite their vastly superior possession, they made hard work of breaking down the Clyde defence and for a long period it looked as if their lack of a cutting edge in front of goal was going to cost them dearly.
Almost from the off Berwick found themselves encamped in the Clyde half of the field.
With Dean Hoskins and Stevie Notman both turning in potential man of the match performances (it was ironic they should both score later in the game), they looked good going forward, but they always appeared to come unstuck in the final third.
Kevin McDonald was one of the few players to put his foot through the ball, and he went close when he pulled a shot wide.
Notman also fired wide whilst defender Dougie Brydon was unlucky when he saw a header from a Hoskins corner glance across the front of the goal.
Hoskins also got down the left and crossed for Fraser McLaren, but the striker, who was unmarked, headed wide.
Clyde were on the back foot but they hit Rangers with a sucker punch when they broke twice in the space of two minutes.
First of all Youseff Bejaoui dived to his right to save a half-heartedly struck shot from the edge of the box, the visitors’ first serious attempt on goal.
But after 40 minutes they took an unexpected lead when Bryan Gilfillan fired in a low shot. Bejaoui parried the effort as he dived full stretch to his right, but Kevin Watt was the quickest to react and he guided the rebound into the net from close range.
It was a lead Clyde hardly deserved, but it lasted only three minutes as Hoskins stepped up a take a free kick just right of centre after Darren Lavery had been fouled outside the box and his sweetly struck strike flew into the top of the net.
At the start of the second half Clyde full back Lee Sharp cut inside and shot from 25 yards, but the effort drifted narrowly wide.
At the other end Notman hit a volley which was blocked in the area and another Brydon header from a free kick was saved by keeper, ex-Berwick favourite Jamie Baclay.
But on 64 minutes there was a major turning point when Clyde were reduced to ten men. Iain Gray was the player to receive his marching orders when he was sent off for a foul in the middle of the park, his second bookable offence.
At this stage both sides decided to make a rash of changes, Berwick introducing Stuart Noble (72) and Currie (76) The switches gave Berwick a lift and in the 77th minute they grabbed what proved to be the winner when Notman found space in the box and fired past Barclay from only a few yards out.
Rangers also used young Josh Morris, who has been in good scoring form with the Reserves as of late, and it will be interesting to see if he is given an extended run to give the team some attacking options.
Clyde were not finished yet, however, and it would be safe to say Berwick rode their luck late on, when, in the 87th minute, John Neil found the net, only to have the goal ruled out for what must have been a marginal offside decision.
On the balance of play this was a game Berwick deserved to win, but the margin of victory was less than their superiority warranted.
They are now only four points off the top, so there is still all to play for, but how manager Ian Little must be hoping his side can transfer their home form to their forthcoming away trips, starting this weekend with a visit to Hampden and high-flying Queen’s Park.
Berwick: Bejaoui 7, Jacobs 6, Hoskins 8, Brydon 7, McLean 7, Gielty 6 (Currie 76), Notman 8, Janczyk 6, Lavery 6(Noble 72), McLaren 6 (Morris 81), McDonald 7.
Clyde: Barclay, Brown, Sharp, Gray, Oliver, Hay, Neil, McBeth (McCluskey 84), Watt, Scullion (Masterton 75), Gilfillan (Kane 72).
Referee: David Somerset.