BERWICK will have been handed a potentially lucrative tie away to Hibernian in the second round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.
Tuesday’s draw in Dingwall paired Rangers with the SPL outfit in a match that will be played at Easter Road on either Tuesday or Wednesday, August 23 or 24.
After last season’s money-spinning Scottish Cup home tie against Celtic, this is another opportunity for Berwick to cash in and is a reward for Saturday’s superb first-round win away to First Division Partick Thistle.
Berwick and Hibs met in a pre-season friendly at Shielfield just a few weeks ago when Rangers gave a good account of themselves before going down 3-0.
Berwick manager Jimmy Crease said: “This will be a great occasion for the club. It’s all very well playing league games every week, but a game like this, at Easter Road, is one many of the players will remember for the rest of their lives.
“They played very well on Saturday and I’m just delighted that we have managed to land such a plum draw.
“The fact that we only played them a few weeks ago in a pre-season friendly means that we also know a bit about their play. In saying that, it will still be a very difficult game.”
Club director John Bell, who is relishing the chance of a crack at the capital side said: “In all honesty this is just reward for the performance the players turned in at Partick. I can’t remember the last time we played Hibs competitively, but it must have been a few years ago.
“It’s another away tie – that makes it a remarkable 18 of the last 19 draws away from home (the only home tie was against Celtic), but on this occasion we don’t mind as we would much rather be playing at Easter Road in front of five or six thousand people, rather than somewhere like Forfar.”
Berwick and Hibernian have met six times in competitive fixtures. The first occasion was in 1967, when following their famous 1-0 win over Glasgow Rangers, Berwick went down 1-0 in Edinburgh in the Scottish Cup fourth round.
In 1979-80 the teams met twice. They drew 0-0 at Shielfield in a Scottish Cup tie, when George Best graced the Tweedside pitch, Hibs going on to win the replay 1-0 at Easter Road. And in 1980-81 they faced each other three times in the old first division, one game at Shielfield ending 0-0, whilst Hibs won each of the others 2-0.
Rangers kick off their Third Division campaign with a difficult away game at Elgin City this weekend before travelling to Dumbarton in the second round of the Ramsdens Challenge Cup on Tuesday, August 9. The Ramsdens Cup trophy will be on display at their shop in Marygate, Berwick and fans are being invited along to have their pictures taken with the trophy. The trophy will be in the shop between 10am and 3pm, and there is also a chance to win a signed Berwick Rangers’ shirt in a prize draw.
Berwick’s win over Partick on Saturday was achieved just a week after a penalty shoot-out victory over Clyde in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup and manager Crease was delighted with the performance.
“After losing to Partick in each of the last two years this was most definitely sweet revenge as far as we were concerned. But it was a win which was also deserved,” he said.
“Some people will point to the fact that Partick had two players sent off, but on each occasion it was a foul by the last man and we were in scoring positions.
“This really was a great result and a good all round team performance. It was the confidence booster we were looking for before our first league game at Elgin this weekend.”
With two games in the coming week Crease says it is important his players maintain their level of concentration.
“Elgin is not an easy place to start your league campaign,” he said, “and to follow that up with a cup tie just three days later at Dumbarton means we will have to have out wits about us.”
Elgin City’s player/ assistant manager Barry Wilson is back in manager Ross Jack’s squad for the Third Division kick off after serving a two match playing ban for misdemeanours on the touchline. Wilson was dismissed from the technical area during a game against Stranraer that the Borough Briggs men won 2-1 in March, however it was not served automatically as it was appealed.
Elsewhere, the East of Scotland season kicks off this weekend, with Berwick Rangers Reserves hosting Premier Division Selkirk at Shielfield in the new Qualifying League competition on Saturday before travelling to Hawick Royal Albert in the same competition on Tuesday night.
Gretna 2008, Stirling University and Ormiston are also in Section A, with the teams facing each other once and the top two advancing to the quarter-final of the League Cup.