Spartans bow out at Berwick as heroic Scottish Cup run comes to an end

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Spartans Scottish Cup giant killing run came to an end at a blustery Berwick after a Darren Lavery first half strike was enough to separate the sides in Tuesday night’s 5th Round Replay.

Kick-off at the SPFL Division side’s Shielfield Park was delayed by 15 minutes due to crowd congestion as the Spartan Army, who made up circa half of the 2,003 supporters inside the ground, came to town.

The Lowland League side were dealt a blow ahead of the game when keeper Kevin Swain failed to recover from an eye injury sustained at the weekend and his place between the sticks was taken by Blair Carswell.

The desire to win was clear from the off when John Grant’s robust challenge in midfield sent Colin Cameron the Berwick Player / Manager sprawling, much to the bemusement of the former Scotland Internationalist.

Grant was at the heart for the first Spartans chance.  His long ball was picked up by Paul Sludden who fed Kevin Motion however the finished article went wide of William Bald’s goal.

There were loud appeals from the Spartans players when a Willie Bremner effort appeared to strike the arm of a Berwick defender however the match officials waved play on.

Next up saw another opportunity for the tourists when a bending Jack Beesley free-kick cleared the Berwick wall – complete with white spray to ensure it’s 10 yard retreat – however it narrowly flashed past Bald’s post.

Despite Spartans having the lion’s share of possession, it was the home side who took what proved to be a decisive lead.

With their first corner kick of the evening, Berwick’s Paul Willis sent in an in-swinging cross which evaded the visiting defence and fell to Darren Lavery who drilled the ball home past Carswell from six yards.

Sludden had an opportunity to level proceedings before the interval when a Grant ‘Garry Owen’ fell into the path of the striker however he couldn’t direct his shot beneath the Berwick crossbar.

Half Time: Berwick Rangers 1-0 Spartans

On the hour mark, Errol Douglas and Keith McLeod – who missed the first game due to suspension – replaced Sludden and Motion as Spartans boss Dougie Samuel looked to carve an opening and a way back into the tie.

Berwick on the other hand looked to take the sting out of the game and under the stewardship of the wily Cameron, they done precisely that.

Indeed, a speculative long range effort by the 41 year old almost doubled the home side’s advantage however he could only look on as his wind-assisted strike nestled on top of Carswell’s net.

An almighty stramash in the Berwick box saw the ball hit off legs akin to that in a pinball machine however the spherical object didn’t hit it’s end destination of the net behind Bald.

As the game entered its dying stages, Spartans set out to take the game into extra time.

First up saw a trademark Jack Nixon long throw into the crowded Berwick box.  Douglas rose like a salmon to flick the ball into the danger zone, begging for a fellow Spartan to nudge it over the line.  Alas, it fell to defender Jacobs at the back post who unceremoniously hoofed it to safety.

The last gasp dramatic scenes witnessed at Ainslie Park a week and a half ago where almost sensationally recreated when a Douglas knock down fell to Nixon who left fly with a thunderous volley, only to see his strike rattle the top of crossbar and fall the wrong side of the frame.

Despite the fourth official indicating three additional minutes at the end, there was to be no injury time heroics for the Spartans side who left the field earning the plaudits however it’s the SPFL Division 2 side who earn a Quarter Final tie at Easter Road against Hibs, who had boss Alan Stubbs sitting in the stand watching his prospective opponents.

Full Time: Berwick Rangers 1-0 Spartans

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Jack Nixon

Spartans: Carswell, Nixon, Cennerazzo, Malone, Mackinnon, Brown, Beesley (Stevenson), Grant, Bremner, Sludden (Douglas), Motion.  Subs Not Used: Jackson, McLeod, Thomson, Sivewright, Henretty.

Next Fixture

Date: Saturday 16th December
Opponent: Elgin City
Venue:Borough Briggs
Competition: SPFL 2
Kick off: 3.00pm

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