BERWICK kicked off their competitive season with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory against Clyde in the Challenge Cup at Broadwood on Saturday, the teams have drawn 2-2 after extra-time (see match report on page 39)..
And there was more good news from the Rangers’ point of view when it was confirmed that they have signed four new players, with more more likely to be added over the next few days.
Jamie Barclay, a one-time Berwick loanee, stepped into the breach at the last minute to fill the gap between the posts. Left back Michael Deland and midfielder Darren Smith, who had both , who had played pre-season as trialists, also accepted terms, as did striker Stuart Noble.
Barclay, who saved a penalty during the game, and Noble were both handed starting roles against Clyde, whilst Smith was introduced as a second half substitute.
The arrival of the quartet was a welcome fillup for manager Jimmy Crease who couldn’t have been more pleased.
“It’s all been a bit frantic over the past few weeks, but I was always hopeful it would come together,” he said.
“I knew a lot of players were hanging out to see if they could get the best deal. It was frustrating, but now we have the players in place it is a bit of a relief.
“Jamie is a young lad (22) and has been full time since he left school. He’s been released by Falkirk because of their financial position, and because of the horrendous problems we have had trying to fill the role, I was more than happy to offer him a deal.
“Jamie, who is a former Scottish U21 international, was with us for 13 games in 2009, so he knows what we are about, and with Ian McCaldon missing the start of the season with his back problem he has a good chance to stake his claim for the jersey.
“Michael Deland (who played on loan from Hearts with East Fife last season) did okay in pre-season so we thought we would give him a chance.
“It was the same with Darren Smith. He was with Hibernian as a teenager then joined Airdrie before ending last season at Albion Rovers.”
Noble, who is 27, started his professional career with Fulham and in the past three seasons has served Airdrie and Alloa, netting 30 goals in 105 appearances.
But it’s unlikely he will be the only new striker, as Crease is also trying to sign another front man, perhaps even before this weekend’s League Cup match away to Partick Thistle.
However, it will not be last year’s leading goalscorer Darren Gribben, who after a spell pre-season with Hamilton, has agreed a shotrt term contract with the Accies.
After weeks of hunting for players to complete his squad, Crease has finally got his men, and he feels that with competition for places likely to be keen throughout the season, it can only be a good thing for the team.
“Competition is always healthy,” he said, “and I think we will have that from goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers.”
Rangers, who play Partick Thistle in the League Cup at Firhill on Saturday, now have a 20 man squad at their disposal (21 if a new striker signs).
Goalkeepers - Jamie Barclay and Ian McCaldon.
Defenders - Stephen Notman, Chris Townsley, Chris McLeod, Michael Deland, Elliott Smith, Andy McLean, Andy Walker and Steven Thomson.
Midfielders - Fraser McLaren, Paul Currie, Lee Currie, Kevin McDonald, David Greenhill, Arran Ponton, Darren Smith and Ian Little.
Strikers - Damon Gray, Stuart Noble and AN Other.