Survival instincts kick in as Wee Gers show their mettle

Darren Lavery makes it 1-0 to Berwick
Darren Lavery makes it 1-0 to Berwick

BERWICK RANGERS 3 
EDINBURGH CITY 2

Berwick left it late to secure their Scottish League status when they beat Edinburgh City with an injury time winner in the final game of the season at Shielfield.

Rangers needed only a point to guarantee they did not finish bottom of the table, and avoid the end-of-season play-offs, and two goals in the first half, courtesy of Darren Lavery and Greg Rutherford, settled the nerves and put them in the driving seat.

But in the second half Lewis Allan pulled a goal back for Edinburgh before Ryan Porteous equalised five minutes from the end, making for a nervous finale.

Then in injury time, substitute David Verlaque netted the winner with a low shot to guarantee League Two football for another year.

With just a minute gone, Aaron Murrell was unlucky when he saw a shot deflected onto the outside of the post.

Edinburgh looked the more lively early on and Berwick manager John Coughlin was animated on the touchline.

But the breakthrough came after 16 minutes when Michael McKenna slipped the ball through for Lavery, who ran on and placed the call through goalkeeper Calum Antell’s legs.

Minutes later Rutherford looked as if he might make it 2-0, but his close-range header landed on the roof of the City net.

Derek Riordan fired in a free-kick for Edinburgh, but Sean Brennan got down to collect safely.

In 28 minutes, Rangers did double their advantage when McKenna, on the right, crossed to the back post and Rutherford gratefully headed past Antell.

The pressure was off, Rangers had their backs up and in 30 minutes Murrell tried a scissor-kick in the box but Antell made a good reaction save.

Just a minute later, Pat Scullion had a header pushed away by Antell, but the flag was up for offside from a free-kick.

It was 2-0 at half-time, but in 54 minutes Rutherford limped off injured and was replaced by Lee Hamilton.

For a spell Rangers were forced to defend deep as Edinburgh enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but Brennan was rarely troubled and the closest the visitors went was when a Jordan Caddow header from a corner bounced off the top of the crossbar.

At the other end Murrell twisted and turned in the box, but his shot was hit straight at Antell.

In 74 minutes, Edinburgh pulled a goal back when a Josh Walker corner was headed down by Ryan Porteous, Brennan saved low on his line, but Allan turned and fired the loose ball into the net for 2-1.

In 85 minutes, Allan had time for a header which was turned around for a corner, and from the kick Porteous slammed in the loose ball making for a nervy finale.

Then, in the 90th minute, McKenna might have grabbed the winner when he ran through and his low shot was saved by Antell, but a minute later Verlaque, who had only been on the pitch for six minutes, netted with a low shot which brought the house down.

Berwick: Brennan 6, Spark 6, Phillips 7, Notman 7, Scullion 7, Fairbairn 7, Thomson 7 (McKirdy 90), Lavery 8, Rutherford 7 (54), McKenna 7, Murrell 6 (Verlaque 83).

Edinburgh: Antell 6, Dunsmore 6 (Donaldson 44), Porteous 7, Caddow 6, Cummings 6 (McConnell 77), Walker 7, Allan 6, Gair 6, Riordan 6, Guthrie 6 (Mafoko 77), Mbu 6.

Referee: David Lowe. Attendance: 695.