Currie spot on as Rangers scrape through in Cup

William Hill Scottish FA Cup Round 2. Lee Currie goal's celebration
William Hill Scottish FA Cup Round 2. Lee Currie goal's celebration

Berwick Rangers 1, Wick Academy 0: Berwick made it through to the third round of the Scottish Cup when they beat battling Wick at Shielfield on Saturday - but only just.

It took an 89th minute penalty from Lee Currie to finally kill off the Highland League side and as the spot kick hit the back of the net it would be safe to say one could feel the wave of relief sweeping through the stadium.

That’s because the Academy side put up a tremendous fight, and had it not been for an early penalty save from Youssef Bejaoui, along with some desperate defending in the second half, it might have been the far travelled visitors going into the hat for Monday’s draw instead.

As Berwick fans will undoubtedly remember, last season Rangers were unceremoniously dumped out of the Cup by Deveronvale, a defeat which ultimately cost then manager Jimmy Crease his job.

Ian Little and assistant Robbie Horn were desperate to avoid a repeat performance, but as the game wore on it must save been squeaky bum time on the bench.

For Wick threw everything at them in the second half and for a while Berwick were hanging on to try and stay in the tie.

They were desperate to avoid a replay and as the game entered its final stages they would have taken a win by any means.

But just how dramatic that that would eventually turn out to be, no one knew for certain.

Stuart Noble, who hadn’t played a first team game this season, was introduced as a 67th minute substitution, having now recovered from his hamstring injury, and it was his experience which helped swing the game Berwick’s way when he forced the tackle from Grant Steven which led to referee James Campbell awarding the penalty.

Currie, who hadn’t had the best of games by his standard, remained the coolest man on the pitch, and stepped up to take the kick, which he fired low to the keeper’s left.

In effect this was a game which was a tale of two penalties, for Wick had been handed a glorious chance to stake an early foothold in the match when they were awarded a spot kick themselves.

Berwick defender Dougie Brydon was the culprit as he floored David Allan on the left edge of the area in the seventh minute.

Sam MacKay stepped up to face Bejaoui, but the Berwick keeper, who has a reputation as a good penalty stopper, guessed correctly and blocked the kick as he dived to his left.

Allan had been causing the Berwick back four some trouble with his direct running in the early stages, but after the penalty miss Wick went into their shell a little. They switched from three up front to only one. They defended a little deeper and this allowed Berwick to exploit them with some telling balls down the channels, particularly from Currie, McDonald and fullback Dean Hoskins.

But the front pair of Fraser McLaren and Darren Lavery were unable to take advantage, and Lavery was replaced by last week’s two goal hero John Ferguson with only 25 minutes gone.

Just minutes after coming on he had the ball taken off his toe as he was about to shoot, and later in the half he was unlucky when he saw a glancing header from a corner come back off the face of the crossbar.

McLaren might have done better when one on one with Michael Gray, and the keeper also did well to grasp a low Currie shot from distance at full stretch.

Stevie Notman was also making his presence felt and he went close with a header, whilst defender Alan Farquhar denied him with a goal line clearance from. Hoskins cross.

At the start of the second half McLaren and Currie both fired over, but Wick had more purpose about them and for a 20 minute spell they bombarded the Berwick back four, who had to stand firm.

MacKay tried his luck from distance whilst Allan was decidedly closer when he pulled the trigger, only to see Brydon deny him with a fantastic block, preventing an almost certain goal.

A Michael Steven cross from the right caused some consternation in the home defence, and Bejaoui, who tipped one shot around for a corner, also did well to block a Stevie Cunningham drive with his legs.

As the clock ticked down 0-0 looked a certainty and a lengthy 640-mile round trip up north next weekend for the replay was a distinct possibility.

But then fate took a hand. Noble won the penalty, Currie converted, and Berwick were into the next round.

However, one has to have some sympathy for Wick - they certainly gave Berwick a fright and on another day might have taken something from the game.

Berwick: Bejaoui 8, Jacobs 7, Hoskins 7, Townsley 6, Brydon 7, Currie 6, Notman 6, Janczyk 6 (Noble 67), Lavery 5 (Ferguson 26), McLaren 6, McDonald 6 (Gielty 81).

Wick: Gray, MSteven, Manson, Farquhar, G Steven, Shearer, MacKay, Cunningham (Pickles 80), Weir, MacAdie, Allan.

Referee: James Campbell

Att: 423