Rangers suffer first defeat under caretaker boss Little

Berwick Rangers 0-2 Clyde, 03 Dec 2011
Berwick Rangers 0-2 Clyde, 03 Dec 2011

Berwick Rangers 0

Clyde 2

Sweeney 24 (pen), Cusack 86

by Keith Hamblin

at Shielfield Park

IAN Little suffered his first defeat as caretaker manager of Berwick when his side went down to a disappointing 2-0 home reverse at the hands of Clyde on Saturday.

After three wins and a draw in his first four matches in charge, fans were optimistic and many thought that a win over the struggling Clyde - they were short of players earlier in the week - was a mere formality.

But the ‘Bully Wee’ beefed themselves up with the inclusion of three trialists, and in the end they turned out to be much tougher opposition than many people expected.

The Glasgow side looked a more compact unit and afterwards it was difficult to disagree with the assessment of their manager Jim Duffy when he said they had the better of the first half.

He asked them to get men behind the ball and defend resolutely in the second half when he knew Berwick would try and break them down and the fact that trialist keeper David Crawford was rarely troubled emphasised just how well they went about their business.

For once Berwick lacked any penetration. They failed to get men into wide positions, which might have enabled them to get in behind the Clyde defence. They continually found themselves crowded out in front of goal with a sea of orange and in the end they just couldn’t turn the tide.

In a scrappy start neither side looked capable of getting the ball down and controlling it, which in part was perhaps down to the fact that the game was littered with stoppages.

Rangers showed only one change to the side which had beaten Montrose 5-3 the previous week, with Steven Thomson making way in central defence for the return of Chris Townsley.

At times the Berwick back four looked vulnerable and it was only a timely tackle from Andy McLean which prevented certain danger, whilst another trialist, Jordan White, saw a diving header from a Liam Cusack cross go narrowly over.

Goalkeeper Jamie Barclay then had to come to Berwick’s rescue, racing off his line to block a Cusack effort after McLean had lost the ball about 30 yards out.

Berwick showed some signs of improvement with headers from Townsley and Stephen Notman at a corner, but it was clear some of the Rangers were having an off-day, and when full-back Michael Deland failed to clear properly, White, who held the Clyde front line well, surged through on the edge of the box, where he was fouled by Barclay.

It was a clear penalty and John Sweeney rifled in the spot kick to give the visitors the lead after 24 minutes.

Rangers managed to knock the ball around well at times, but the front two of Darren Gribben and Stuart Noble found little joy and they got no change out of a frugle Clyde back four, well marshalled by Brian McQueen and Paul Hay.

In a rare effort Gribben pulled a shot wide after Ross Gray created the opening in the middle.

But just before half-time Rangers had the woodwork to thank when John Neil saw a shot come back off the face of the bar after a good build-up down the left.

Early in the second half Pat Scullion fired a shot from distance straight at Barclay.

Berwick managed to get the ball in the opposition net after 56 minutes but the flag was already up for offside.

After this Berwick tried to rally and Noble turned and shot from ten yards, whilst Lee Currie struck a free kick from the edge of the box, but both were safely collected by Crawford.

Cusack then might have scored a wonder goal for Clyde when he took a long ball on the turn, beat his marker, but with just Barclay to beat pulled his shot wide.

Berwick had several half-hearted efforts from Kevin McDonald, Gray and Notman, but nothing which remotely troubled Crawford.

Little then made the bold decision to replace the out-of-touch Deland, who looked only a shadow of the player in some of the earlier games, with striker Gray as Rangers tried to force the issue.

But on 86 minutes they found themselves exposed at the back, a cross from substitute Michael Oliver finding Cusack in the middle, whose touch took it past Barclay for the all-important second goal.

By this stage Darren Lavery had also been introduced to the fray, but he hesitated in getting in a shot and the chance was gone, which really signified Berwick’s afternoon.

Berwick Rangers: Barclay 6, Smith 6, Deland 4 (D Gray 78), McLean 6, Townsley 6, Currie 7, R Gray 7, Notman 7, Noble 5, Gribben 5 (Lavery 64), McDonald 7.

Clyde: Trialist, Gray, Sharp, Trialist, McQueen, Hay, Neil, Sweeney, White (Oliver 84), Cusack (Irvine 89), Scullion.

Referee: David Somers

Attendance: 410.