EAST FIFE 2, BERWICK RANGERS 1 (After extra time). Berwick’s promotion dream ended at East Fife on Saturday when the home side came from behind to beat Ian Little’s men in extra-time.
Berwick led 0-1 with a second half Darren Lavery penalty, but and own goal by Kevin McDonald meant the sides remained all square after 90 minutes.
It looked like the game was heading for penalties, but with just two minutes remaining Fifers’ substitute Liam Gormley netted the winner, scoring from six yards out against a tiring Rangers’ defence following a cross from Bobby Barr.
The teams had drawn 1-1 in the first leg at Shielfield on Wednesday which meant there was still everything to play for.
Berwick, with Chris Townsley suspended, drafted in Dean Hoskins to partner Andy McLean at centre back, and with Dylan Easton and Darren Lavery winning recalls following their performances in the first leg, it meant Lee Currie and Kevin McDonald were relegated to the bench.
Berwick had to be alert with Scott McBride getting in a first minute header, collected safely by Marc McCallum.
There was nothing between the sides in the early exchanges of what was a tense and nervy encounter and Berwick had to wait until the 21st minute before creating their first opening when Lavery saw a volley saved by Antell.
Three minutes later Fraser McLaren shot from the left side of the box and Antell parried clear.
With Rangers applying the pressure Antell had to save again from both Scott Dalziel and Easton whilst Dalziel also volleyed over the bar after 31 minutes.
Lavery managed to get in another shot which Antell caught and the striker was denied by the keeper again with another volley which was pushed away.
It was all Berwick in the lead up to half-time and Dalziel headed over the bar, but at the break it was still 0-0.
At the start of the second half East Fife opened brightly and David Muir pulled a shot wide before McCallum saved from Paul Willis.
Durie shot wide and then McCallum saved again from a Willis header.
Paul McManus then shot wide as Berwick found themselves on the back foot.
But the breakthrough came in the 61st minute when Lavery fired Berwick into the lead, converting from the penalty spot for his 20th goal of the season after a foul by Stephen Campbell.
Three minutes later Willis volleyed over the bar as the Fifers tried to respond and the big man was denied by McCallum with a catch save a few minutes after that.
A confident Lavery volleyed over as he went in search of a second, but there was a further twist when East Fife were awarded a penalty of their own for a foul by Hoskins after 78 minutes.
McCallum saved McBride’s spot kick, but McDonald, only a few minutes after coming on, turned the rebound into his own net for the equaliser.
Late on Devon Jacobs made a good block and Willis shot wide whilst Campbell shot over the bar almost right on the final whistle as the game went into extra-time.
In the first period of extra time substitute Phil Addison shot wide and McDonald and Currie had efforts confidently collected by Antell.
In the second period the EF keeper saved with his feet from Addison who shot from only six yards out.
Muir (shot) and Wardlaw (header) both put the ball wide at the other end as Berwick started to tire, and with just two minutes left on the clock the home side snatched the winner.
East Fife: Antell, Durie, White, Campbell, Johnstone, Muir, Barr, McBride,Willis, McManus (Gormley 86), Samuel (Wardlaw 64).
Berwick: McCallum, Gielty, Jacobs, Hoskins, McLean, McLaren (Currie 82), Janczyk, Notman, Easton (McDonald 69), Dalziel, Lavery (Addison 89).