Arbroath gave Berwick a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ at Gayfield on Saturday as they dominated the Borders side to increase their league lead.
Goals from Simon Murray and Bobby Linn sealed the deal for the Lichties as the hosts successfully kept the Black and Gold at bay.
Rangers boss Colin Cameron was less than impressed with his squad’s performance. He said: “We weren’t up for the battle, too many weren’t up for the battle, there were only two or three I would say that fought back and matched Arbroath, but to a man every single one of their players put in a shift and that’s what gave them the result.”
Arbroath manager Allan Moore said: “I felt it was a pretty even two teams. I would say it was two teams that were trying to get the upper hand and fortunately for us we got the first goal. The first goal in this division is imperative because it gives you something to hang on to.
“Getting the three points is the be-all and end-all, but coming in to find that your two nearest rivals have dropped points it obviously cheers the boys up even more.”
Berwick started strongly at Gayfield with Notman and Currie piling the pressure on in the first few minutes for a couple of half chances, and although the teams were matched over the piece it was the visitors who had the edge on the early aggression.
After a tactical reshuffle, with Linn moving into the centre to close down a troublesome Notman, Arbroath really started to make inroads into the visitors’ territory, with McManus, Murray, Lowdon and Little swarming the opponents in the first 20 odd minutes.
With the Wee Gers forced into a solid defensive pose it took 27 minutes before Ricky Little spotted MURRAY prowling in the box who smashed it home at point blank range to open the accounts.
Berwick were down but not out and Currie proved a problem just after the half hour mark with a great cross from Jacobs and then again with Arbroath on the back foot 10 minutes later when he nodded it into McCallum’s mitts.
The Lichties must have had an inspiring interval because they charged out of the tunnel and an air of aggression and creativity infused their second half.
Good link up play between Linn, McBride and McManus repeatedly endangered the scoreline and the visitors became more physical in response.
Just after the 50 minute mark LINN charged down the left flank, pierced the Berwick line and walloped it into the top left past a defenceless Andrews to make it 2-0.
Berwick tried to claw it back and in the last 10 minutes ‑ rocketed a shot off the Arbroath crossbar and Young made himself a nuisance with the defenders.
It was not enough and Arbroath never looked in any real danger as they kept Berwick wrapped up and the three points, making them five clear at the top, will make for a well-deserved Christmas present.