Saturday saw us travel just up the A1 to take on Tranent in the second round of the South Challenge Cup, at an unfamiliar 2:30pm kick off time.
Tranent have made a great start to their league campaign and beat last weeks opponents, Gala Fairydean Rovers, 6-0 in the previous round.
I headed up from Newcastle, with the trains being off between Morpeth and Edinburgh we decided that we would travel by car. I took the turn to drive there and Emma took over and drove us home after the game.
We got into Tranent just after 1pm, leaving the car close to the ground, we headed for a brief walk. I say brief as it was very windy. I’d seen on the club match preview that fans were being welcomed at the bowls club which was only a short distance from the ground.
We bumped into another couple of Berwick fans in the pub and sat with them to catch up, talking about the game from the previous week and an overall assessment on the season so far. The pub itself was very friendly and incredibly cheap, they had the Celtic game on the TV and when this finished, the channel was switched to Newcastle’s trip to Liverpool. We got talking to a couple of locals about how our respective seasons have been going and the odds for the game on the day.
Onto the game itself, we had started quite well and had a couple of chances early on. Dan Purves had a shot that was side footed straight at former Berwick goalkeeper Ali Adams. Ciaran Chalmers also had a header that went wide following a corner.
After ten mins, disaster struck and Traent were awarded a penalty following a foul on the edge of the box with their first real attack. It seemed soft but had it been at the other end, I would have been shouting for us to be given it.
I’m fairly sure that was our 8th penalty conceded so far this season over 13 games (Stranaer x2, Bonnyrigg, Stirling Uni, Rangers Colts, Gala x2 and Tranent). That’s some record mind.
Stephen Macdonald stepped up and sent Mark Walters (who had came into the side in replacement of Sean Brennan) the wrong way to put the home side 1-0 up.
Ricky Miller missed the game due to family commitments and his lack of presence was evident. Lewy Barr and Yaw Osei had dropped to the bench. The wind was playing a major part and in turn, the game was quite scrappy. We continued to push forward and Purves had a further effort which went wide of the far post from the edge of the box.
After some good football in midfield, Grant Rose then whipped the ball into the box and it was turned behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Purves had a header which hit a Tranent arm and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Rose took it, scuffed it and it rolled into the centre of the goal.
Tempers flared following a couple of bookings for the home side and the Tranent manager was sent off. I was nearer the corner flag than the dugout so didn’t see what had happened and only found out about it at half time. We went into the break level.
This only last 8 minutes into the second half when Andy Jones picked the ball up on the right wing for Tranent, cut inside and fired a shot that went through Walters’ hands. He was a long way out, the shot was central and didn’t have much power behind it but the wind caught it and made it difficult for Walters.
Ten minutes after the home side had went in front, Walters made a couple of good saves in a matter of minutes. We made a couple of changes and introduced Osei and Barr which gave us abit of a lift.
We had a header cleared off the line following a corner and Osei saw a shot from the edge of the box go past the post. A Kevin Waugh freekick was tipped onto the crossbar from the home sides goalkeeper (who had replaced Adams in the first half).
We played much better in the first half and I didn’t feel as though we deserved to lose the game. It was very competitive and Tranent have some very good individual players. Sean Murphy, who was at Berwick last year, had a very good game in the centre of the park and both goalscorers caused us problems. I’d expect Tranent to be in the Lowland League very soon.
It’s hard being a fan of Berwick Rangers (especially at the moment). I was under no illusions that this year was going to be a case of rebuilding and establishing ourselves in a new league and the introduction of the cup competitions that came with our relegation. It’s only September and the players are still getting used to each other, we only kept a handful of them from last year. However, it feels like we are still spiralling. Our next four games will be very difficult:
21/9 – East Kilbride (A)
28/9 – Cumbernauld Colts (H)
1/10 – Spartans (A)
5/10 – Kelty Hearts (H)
I’ll be there at Kilby on Saturday. Forever in hope!