Arbroath, without a victory in their previous four games, saw their winless streak extended to five when they went down to a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Berwick on Saturday.
Rangers were the better side throughout and Arbroath boss Allan Moore admitted afterwards that ‘the better team won’.
“We might have had a penalty in the first minute, but it wasn’t awarded and after that we just didn’t get started,” he said.
“The only good thing to come out of today was the fact that Albion Rovers and Queen’s Park both lost and we are still top of the table.
“But we have hit a sticky patch lately and we need to get ourselves out of it. We also need to start keeping clean sheets again.”
Against the run of play, Arbroath took the lead through substitute Thomas Grant, who netted with his first touch of the ball after being introduced to play after 62 minutes.
But Berwick hit back strongly and took all three points, to keep their own play-off hopes alive, with goals from Lee Currie, Paul Willis and Andy Russell.
In the early stages Berwick player-manager Colin Cameron and Willis both had half-hearted efforts for the home side, whilst Darren Lavery twice cut in from the left, but his shots, from outside the box, didn’t trouble goalkeeper, and former Berwick stopper, Marc McCallum.
In the first half Arbroath struggled to apply any pressure on the home defence and it wasn’t until Bobby Linn pulled a snap shot wide from outside the box that they registered a meaningful effort on goal.
Berwick went close to opening the scoring after 40 minutes when a Willis header from a Kerr Young cross was tipped onto the post by McCallum and then cleared for a corner.
Willis also let fly with a shot saved by McCallum, but at half-time it remained 0-0.
At the start of the second half Arbroath replaced fullback Johnny Lindsay, who had been run ragged by Gray in the opening 45, and after 49 minutes the visitors had their first effort on goal, a header from Simon Murray, which was saved by Billy Bald.
Willis pulled a left foot shot across the face of the visitors’ goal, and McCallum again had to come to Arbroath’s rescue when he punched away a half volley from Lavery on the left side of the box.
But the deadlock was broken when substitute Thomas Grant found the net with his first touch of the ball after 62 minutes, just seconds after being introduced as a substitute. A throw-in to Murray was flicked on and Grant shot low past Bald.
But the lead lasted only five minutes as Lee Currie eqiualised for Rangers after 67 minutes, when a left foot shot from outside the box took a deflection to find its way into the net.
And after 73 minutes the home side deservedly took the lead when Willis found the net from close range after a move crafted by Cameron and Gray. It was Willis’s fifth goal in the last six games.
Linn almost pulled a goal back for the visitors when his cross from the right caught the Berwick defence napping and it bounced back off the far post.
In injury time Bald made a point-blank save to deny Arbroath an equaliser, but Berwick broke upfield and Russell added a third with virtually the last kick of the game.