Coughlin under pressure but board still backing him

Saturdays defeat to Edinburgh City means Berwick start 2017 bottom of the table
Saturdays defeat to Edinburgh City means Berwick start 2017 bottom of the table

Berwick manager John Coughlin admits to feeling ‘under pressure’ after a 3-1 home defeat by Edinburgh City sent his side crashing to the foot of the Scottish Second Division table.

Coughlin had offered to resign after a shock Scottish Cup exit to non-league Hawick Royal Albert earlier in the season, when he was persuaded to remain in post by chairman Lenny Eyre and his board.

But after Saturday’s abject performance, which means Rangers have won only one of their last 11 fixtures, Cohglin admitted the heat is still on him.

“I was under pressure then and I know I am under pressure now,” he said.

“If the powers that be decide they want a change I think I would have to put my hands up and say, like the team, I have no case for the defence.”

Berwick’s inability to defend was once again highlighted when they lost two early goals against a rejuvenated Edinburgh, the Meadowbank side netting twice in the first 160 seconds of the game.

The first came with just a minute on the clock when Chris McKee side-footed the ball into the net from a Mark Laird free kick. And with less than three minutes gone, Douglas Gair made it 2-0 when he dinked the ball over Kevin Walker from a long pass through the middle.

Berwick almost got lucky when an Edinburgh defender headed the ball on to his own post, but in general Rangers lacked any cutting edge, and afterwards Coughlin said there was also a lack of spirit and heart.

Midway through the second half substitute Craig Beattie converted from the penalty spot after Ben Stirling brought down Ousman See in the box, only the second time this season Edinburgh had netted three goals in a game.

A minute later Jordyn Sheerin pulled one back for Berwick, but it was no more than a consolation.

The defeat sent Berwick to bottom of the table and the dreaded relegation drop zone.

Coughlin said: “It may sound harsh, but we are bottom for a reason. We are simply not good enough. We have players with talent, but this match showed there is a lack of spirit and heart within the team.”

After a lengthy meeting between Coughlin and Eyre following the game, the chairman emerged to reveal that Coff had been given the go ahead to go out to try to sign two new defenders.

In the past week Berwick have lost Graeme Beveridge, Barry Hogg and Greg Hurst. Hibs’ development loanees Stirling and Sean Mackie are also both set to return to the Easter Road fold over the next fortnight, meaning a small squad will be reduced by up to five players.

“We need to strengthen the squad, there is no doubt about that,” said Eyre.

“The prospect of the play-offs and relegation is one we don’t want to have to consider, so we need to start climbing the table.

“John is aware of our feelings, which is why money will be made available.”

“Next Saturday we have a big game at Cowdenbeath and we will look at the situation as a whole after that.”