Morris returns to sink Rangers with hat-trick
Berwick Rangers 2-3 Hawick Royal Albert
Berwick suffered a shock Scottish Cup exit when they were beaten by non-league Hawick Royal Albert in the second round at Shielfield on Saturday.
It was Rangers’ second cup loss to non-league opposition this season, having been overturned 0-3 at home to another Lowland League side, Spartans, in the Challenge Cup.
And it was an old boy, Josh Morris, who returned to haunt them, the striker netting a first half hat-trick for the Borders outfit.
The defeat came on the 50th anniversary season of Berwick’s biggest ever cup upset when they beat Rangers 1-0 in the 1966-67 season.
Berwick went into the game with two players - captain Jonny Fairbairn and Kevin McKinlay - suspended, whilst striker Greg Hurst was cup-tied. New signing, striker Greg Rutherford was on the bench.
Hawick, meanwhile, included three players with previous Rangers’ connections - Morris, Ewan Saunderson and Shaun Meikle.
The game was just three minutes old when Hawick were handed an unexpected gift. Goalkeeper Kevin Walker went to clear the ball, but his effort ricocheted off one off his team-mates and Morris gratefully rolled the ball into the empty net.
And it soon became an even bigger uphill task for the senior side when Morris added a second after ten minutes, producing a cool finish under pressure when he latched onto a ball from the right.
Jordyn Sheerin headed wide from a cross on the right as Berwick tried to repair the damage, before Michael McKenna pulled one back after 14 minutes when he shot low from a cutback on the right.
On 27 minutes Steven Thomson curled a left foot shot narrowly wide and minutes later Daren Lavery twisted and turned before also shooting wide.
Morris completed his hat-trick on 38 minutes when he ran onto a through ball and slotted the ball under the keeper’s legs to make it 1-3.
This prompted manager John Coughlin to make two changes in the lead up to half-time, with Lee Hamilton and Rutherford, making his debut, replacing Jordan Orru and Ben Stirling.
Right on half-time Sheerin had a glorious opportunity to pull a goal back when a Thomson free kick was headed into his path, but he pulled his shot wide from the edge of the six yard box.
Early in the second half James McPartlin had a shot parried by Walker, and from the resultant corner Graeme Beveridge had to clear his lines from a Hamish Hunter shot.
Gradually, Berwick started to apply pressure as Hawick defended more deeply, and Lavery, McKenna and Sheerin all went close, but in truth this was a rather inept performance from the home side.
On 67 minutes Rangers managed to pull one back when Lavery crossed from the left and new striker Rutherford headed in.
Two minutes later he headed inches over with another header, and he also had the ball in the net again, but this time his effort was ruled out for a push in the box.
Hawick battled gamely and they are to be congratulated on their efforts, but this was another poor showing from Rangers.
It was a game they should have won, and Coughlin’s offer of resignation after the match did not come as a surprise.