Sell-out crowd predicted for Rangers’ clash

BERWICK are preparing to welcome newco Rangers to Shielfield on Sunday in a game which is likely to attract the biggest crowd at the stadium in recent years.

A club spokesman confirmed this week that he expects the game to be an all-ticket sell-out, with a capacity of 4, 140.

This will be the first league meeting between the two clubs following Rangers’ relegation down to the third division during the summer.

All three remaining fixtures will be played in the new year.

The game kicks off at 12noon and is being shown live on TV, broadcast by ESPN, who have agreed a deal to screen ten of the Ibrox club’s games during the course of the season.

Berwick director John Bell says additional police and security have been drafted in for the game, which will mean ‘a big bill’ for the club.

However, this will be offlaid by the sale of tickets.

Berwick have already confirmed that the match is a sell-out for home fans.

Due to their huge demand for season tickets at Ibrox, the Glasgow club only put tickets for the Berwick game on sale last weekend, but Bell said they have indicated that they expect it to be over subscribed.

“We have already had our pre-match security meeting,” he said, “and everything went well.

“It’s only a short while since we played Celtic at home in the Cup, and the measures we had in place then will virtually be the same again. In fact, if anything they are slightly better.

“We have a new improved steps access to The Ducket, and there is also new hard-standing for wheelchairs, which has only recently been put in place.”

Gates will open at 10.30am. Home supporters will access via the usual turnstiles, with the away fans entering the ground via the gate and turnstiles at The Ducket end of the stadium, and also through the doors at the back of the main stand.

All Rangers’ supporters travelling by bus will be dropped off and picked up again at designated points in Shielfield Terrace.

The two teams will go into the match with differing form.

Rangers bounced back from the loss of an early goal to thump East Stirling 5-1 at Ibrox on Saturday, whilst Berwick are still searching for their first victory of the season.

They travelled to Galabank on Saturday, where, on the new 3G pitch, they took a 2-0 half-time lead.

But the loss of three goals in a five minute spell in the second half meant that Ian Little’s men returned empty handed.

Little was naturally disappointed at the result but he says he hopes the team can now pick themselves up for Sunday’s game.

“When we took a 2-0 lead I thought we might go on to win it,” said Little, “but we allowed Annan back into the game for ten minutes before half-time, and to lose three goals in such a short space of time in the second half was very disappointing.

“We lost another goal from a set piece, which wasn’t good, but I think the penalty had a big bearing on the final result.

“We got sloppy for a while and didn’t keep possession like we know we can, and when we went 3-2 down it made it all the harder for ourselves.”

But that will all be forgotten when the wee Rangers take on the big Rangers at Shielfield this weekend.

“Sunday is a big day for us, the players, the fans, the club and the town,” said Little.

“ I don’t think I will have to gee the players up for this one, but then again I shouldn’t have to lift them for any game they are involved in.

“We are under no illusions, however. We know that it will be very difficult for us.

“Rangers are a big club, and still have some relatively big-name players for the third division.

“Their result at the weekend shows they are capable of scoring goals, and that is something we have to be aware of.

“We will go out and try to play our own game, and for us that means trying to get back to how we performed in some of the pre-season friendlies.

“We have to try and keep the ball and stop Rangers from dominating possession.

“I will go into the game with a game plan, but like every manager facing Rangers this season will tell you, I know I will have to be prepared to change it at any point during the course of the match.

“It’s all down to circumstances on the day.”

Berwick will go into the match without the services of Stevie Notman - he has not played any first team football this season because of suspension, and he is carrying a knock.

There is also a doubt over the inclusion of striker Stuart Noble, but Little says that if the opportunity arises he may include him at some point during the match.

“Stuart is an experienced striker and if we can get him on the pitch it might take some of the pressure off the younger lads.”

Noble has been sidelined so far with a hamstring, but Little says he will wait and see how he comes through training this week before making a decision on his possible inclusion in the squad.

Left-sided midfielder Damien Gielty will also face a late fitness test - he missed Saturday’s trip to Annan with a groin strain, whilst central defender Dougie Brydon is looking to retain his place despite breaking his nose on Saturday.