PRESTON ATHLETIC 0 BERWICK RESERVES 1: Berwick Rangers Reserves booked their place in the King Cup Final against Spartans on June 1 with this semi final victory at Pennypit Park.
Assistant coach Jimmy Rae singled out Ewan Saunderson at the heart of the defence and Ross Brady in midfield for particular praise on a day when the whole team showed grit and determination to overcome more physical Premier Division opposition.
The all important goal came in the 39th minute. Following a Kenny O’Brien corner, a prolonged goalmouth scramble ended when Phil Addison prodded the ball home.
Winning the first half corner count, Preston hoisted balls to their big men, Brian Foster, Richard Ramsay and later, sub Gary McCormack. After home keeper Gilbertson tipped a Keith Lough effort over the bar, Berwick’s Asher Tufail did likewise with a McCormack header. In between, Marc Lancaster tried to tee up a shot but spun the ball outside Gilbertson’s post.
Tufail twisted eel-like on the ground to hold a thumping drive from Ryan Strachan which had ‘goal’ written all over it before O’Brien flicked the ball on to Addison to win the corner which preceded Berwick’s goal.
The Prestonpans men twice appealed for early second half penalties; after the tricky Robbie Arthur made contact with Steven Finlayson and when Ramsay claimed his shot was stopped by a black and gold arm. On neither occasion was referee McKniff impressed.
With the advantage of the slope, Preston were now playing mostly inside Berwick’s half. Conor Scott’s shot rolled past Rangers’ precariously open goal. An alert Tufail saved with his feet from Mark Cherrie whilst Preston’s tall men remained a constant threat.
A swift O’Brien, Brady, Lough move which caught the home defence napping was a rare meaningful second half Berwick excursion into opponents’ territory. Instead, the Reserves were often forced to pump the ball into the home half simply to relieve the pressure.
Three minutes from time, a McCormack shot looked netbound. Finlayson, who earlier headed off the line, appeared from nowhere to kick away the ball in the nick of time.
When Preston were denied a further handball claim, McCormack was red carded for venting his frustration to Mr McKniff in an unacceptable manner. But by then, there were only 60 seconds left for Berwick to hold on.
Berwick Reserves: Tufail, Finlayson, Brady, Saunderson, Fairbairn, Lancaster, O’Brien, Doris, Addison, Wyllie ( Smith 54 ), Lough