Late goal ends Rangers’ dreams of semi-finals

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Berwick Rangers 1

McDonald 51

Livingston 2

Scougall 12, Russell 84

by Keith Hamblin

at Shielfield Park

BEATEN but not disgraced. That was the message which emerged after Berwick saw their Ramsden’s Cup run ended when they were beaten by Livingston in the quarter-finals at a sunny Shielfield on Sunday.

Rangers gave a good account of themselves, but in the end they were beaten by a quicker, more experienced side, although at one stage it did look as if the game was destined for extra-time.

For it was only a goal from in-form striker Iain Russell six minutes from the end which saw the first division side through to the last four of the competition.

Russell had turned up a number iof good scoring opportunities throughout the afternoon, but when man of the match Stefan Scougall pulled the ball back to him from the bye-line he buried it to finally end the black and gold dream.

Rangers went into the game as definite underdogs - Livi had already scored ten goals in the earlier rounds - and when Jamie Barclay was forced to go full stretch to deny Russell after only 40 seconds, it looked as if The Borderers were in for a tough time.

Livi definitely looked sharper and a lot quicker on the ball.They also employed the overlap tactics well down the flanks and both Berwick full-backs - Stevie Notman and Stephen Thomson - had to be alert to the danger.

Indeed, this was how the opening goal came about after 12 minutes when Livi broke down the left. The ball was cut back into the area and Scougall, with an outstretched foot, guided the ball home for his first goal for the club.

Minutes earlier Barclay had had to rush off his line and out of his area to narrow the angle on the on-rushing Rory Boulding, whilst Bobby Barr also looked sharp, trying to draw central defenders Chris Townsley and Chris Mcleod out of position.

Berwick’s best chances of the first half all came from dead ball situations - two corners (one from Paul Currie and one from Kevin McDonald) which caused some panic in the Livi defence, and a McDonald free kick which was awarded right on the edge of the box.

McDonald also had to make a telling interception in his own penalty area just as Keaghan Jacobs was about to pull the trigger, and with Russell also shooting wide with just Barclay to beat it was all Rangers could do to hang on to 0-1 at half-time.

Manager Jimmy Crease said afterwards that as they had been outplayed in the first half he was quite happy to go in at the break just a goal down.

Russell spurned another opportunity at the start of the second half when a long clearance saw Notman miss his clearing header, but from a tight angle the striker could only get his shot in across the face of the goal.

Berwick were then thrown a lifeline in 51 minutes when they won a corner - their first in a series - and McDonald’s curler from the left swung in at the back post. A Livi defender went to head off the line, but standside linesman Raymond Whyte signalled the ball had crossed the line and suddenly it was all to play for at 1-1.

The goal gave Rangers a boost of confidence and for a spell they got stuck in, with Lee Currie pulling the strings in midfield. It developed in a real cup-tie atmosphere with the crowd getting behind both teams as play swung from end to end.

The Lionsd were still quick on the break, however, on one occasion bursting clear from a Berwick corner at one end, only to be denied by a good covering interception at the other.

Russell, who by this stage must have thought it wasn’t going to be his day, then somehow pulled his shot wide of the post, hitting the back advertising boards, when he just had Barclay to beat.

A few minutes later he headed just wide, and with the clock starting to tick down Rangers’ thoughts must have started turning to extra-time.

Darren Gribben and Arran Ponton had been introduced as substitutes, but Berwick looked visibly tired, and in the 84th minute the tie was put beyond their reach when Russell finally found the net.

Manager Crease was naturally disappointed at the result, as he said his team had ’shot themselves in the foot’ with the manner in which they had conceded the two goals.

“We just weren’t consistent for the entire 90 minutes,” he said.

Berwick Rangers: Barclay 7, Notman 7, Thomson 7 (Townsley 6, Mcleod 6, Currie 7, McLaren 6, Greenhill 6 (Ponton 73), Noble 6, Gray 5 (Gribben 77), McDonald 7.

Livingston: McNeil, Brown, Talbot, Scougall (Fox 86), MacDonald, Watson, Sinclair, Jacobs, Boulding (Deuchar 55), Russell, Barr.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 567.