Rangers made to fight to the bitter end by Edinburgh City

Berwick Rangers 3-2 Edinburgh City

Monday, 8th May 2017, 8:28 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:31 pm

Berwick left it late to secure their Scottish League status when they beat Edinburgh City with an injury time winner in the final game of the season at Shielfield.

Rangers only needed a point to guarantee they did not finish bottom of the table, and avoid the end of season play-offs, and two goals in the first half, courtesy of Darren Lavery and Greg Rutherford, settled the nerves and put them in the driving seat.

But in the second half Lewis Allan pulled a goal back for Edinburgh before Ryan Porteous equalised five minutes from the end, making for a nervous finale.

Then in injury time, substitute David Verlaque netted the winner with a low shot to guarantee Second Division football for another year.

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With just a minute gone, Aaron Murrell was unlucky when he saw a shot deflected onto the outside of the post.

Edinburgh looked the more lively early on and Berwick manager John Coughlin was animated on the touchline.

But the breakthrough came after 16 minutes when Michael McKenna slipped the ball through for Lavery, who ran on and placed the call through goalkeeper Calum Antell’s legs.

Minutes later Greg Rutherford looked as if he might make it 2-0, but his close-range header landed on the roof of the City net.

Derek Riordan fired in a free kick for Edinburgh, but Sean Brennan got down to collect safely.

On 28 minutes Rangers did double their advantage when McKenna, on the right, crossed to the back post and Rutherford gratefully headed past Antell.

The pressure was off, Rangers had their backs up and on 30 minutes Murrell tried a scissor-kick in the box and Antell made a good reaction save, and just a minute later Pat Scullion had a header pushed away by Antell, but the flag was up for offside from a free kick.

It was 2-0 at half-time, but on 54 minutes Rutherford limped off injured and was replaced by Lee Hamilton.

For a spell Rangers were forced to defend deep as Edinburgh enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but Brennan was rarely troubled and the closest the visitors went was when a Jordan Caddow header from a corner bounced off the top of the crossbar.

St the other end Murrell twisted and turned in the box, but his shot was hit straight at Antell.

On 74 minutes Edinburgh pulled a goal back when a Josh Walker corner was headed down by Ryan Porteous, Brennan saved low on his line, but Allan turned and fired the loose ball into the net for 2-1.

On 85 minutes Allan had time for a header which was turned around for a corner, and from the kick Porteous slammed in the loose ball making for a nervy finale.

In the 90th minute McKenna might have grabbed the winner when he ran through and his low shot was saved by Antell, but a minute later Verlaque, who had only been on the pitch for six minutes, netted with a low shot which brought the house down.

Jonny Fairbairn, the former club captain, who is the only Berwick-based player in the first team squad added: “I think everyone can breathe a collective sigh of relief now.

“It has been a difficult few weeks and there has been pressure on everyone, but now we can hopefully put it behind us and concentrate on what might happen next season.

“It’s easy to see why we have found ourselves in this position - we have conceded too many soft goals, had too many players sent off and lacked any sort of consistency. We knew what we had to do, but we made hard work of it in the second half. Thankfully, we came through and it was a massive result.”