Early Red Card Leaves Shipyard Toiling.
An early sending off after conceding an even earlier goal severely hampered the Shipyard’s chances of progressing in the King Cup. Mikey Couser superbly saved the penalty that was awarded after the red card but a magnificent strike shortly before half-time and a late double as the Shipyard players tired saw Berwick Reserves progress to the 3rd round of the King Cup. Manager Allan had to make a late alteration to his starting eleven as Blair Grubb injured his groin during the warm up. He was replaced by Gavin Bridges who was making his Shipyard debut. Otherwise it was the same personnel that defeated Hawick last week.
Berwick were on the offensive from the kick-off and Couser blocked a weak effort early on. The hosts broke the deadlock in the 6th minute when a cross to the back post was volleyed into the net from close range by Greg Smith. Berwick were doing all the attacking and Couser again saved with his legs before a controversial decision changed the match. Stephen Connor impeded the Rangers forward as he bore down on goal, however, the striker was able to get his shot away and duly scored. The referee had blown for the before the ball was in the net and had no option but to award the spot kick and send the unfortunate Connor off. Mikey Couser kept his side in the match, diving low to his left to deny Sam Todd. The Shipyard defence were coping reasonably well with the Berwick attacks until the 36th minute. Couser produced a fine save from substitute Keith Lough but from the resultant corner the ball was cleared to Jordyn Gill some 35 yards out and he unleashed an unstoppable volley that crashed into the net off the underside of the bar. It was a goal that would have graced any football stadium in the country.
The Shipyard had a great chance to get back into the match at the start of the second half when the ball broke to Lee Henderson in the box. Unluckily his powerful left foot shot was deflected into the side netting. Within the space of six minutes Couser came to his teams rescue on three occasions with more quality goalkeeping as Berwick enjoyed a spell of pressure. Ben Anthony created a chance for himself and when his shot was blocked it broke to Brendan Napier whose attempt was too high to trouble Tufail in the home goals. The Shipyard defence again seemed to be able to contain most of the Berwick attacks but as they began to tire and with Napier carrying an injury, with all subs committed, the home side scored twice in the closing stages. Substitute Josh Morris bagged a double within a couple of minutes as he firstly headed home at the back post and then he coolly slotted the ball beyond the advancing Couser from around the penalty spot. Manager Myles Allan commented after the match. ”Although it’s never a nice experience when you lose, I can’t question the effort or work rate of the team today. Stevie Connor’s red card made things difficult, and playing against a good side with ten men for 75 minutes eventually took its toll. The first goal was disappointing in that we should have defended it better. The second goal was probably one of the best strikes I have ever seen and you just have to hold your hands up when that happens. We were obviously defending for long spells in the second half but I think we could have used the ball a little bit better as there were opportunities to get in behind them. Berwick’s two late goals were harsh on us but, on the flip side, Mikey Couser had two or three outstanding saves. I saw enough positives during the match to see that things are progressing”.
Teams: Berwick Rangers Reserves: Tufail; Saunderson; Brady; McNicholl (Hay); Fairbairn; Gill; Todd (Morris); Doris; Smith; Robinson (Lough); Addison. Unused Subs: Finlayson; Sandison.
Burntisland Shipyard: Couser; Bridges; Connor; Grieve; McKay (Ines); Bell; Tabengwa (Cunningham); Henderson; Anthony; Napier; Peoples (Robertson).
Referee: R. Gordon.