This is what play-off football is all about. With penalties looming, substitute Liam Gormley struck just 80 seconds from the end of extra time to save East Fife from relegation, for now, and dash Berwick’s hopes of promotion.
East Fife: McDonald og 77; Gormley 119
Berwick Rangers: Lavery 60 pen
The Methil outfit now face a two-legged final with Peterhead to prevent them dropping out of the Second Division and, with the Rangers of Glasgow set to spread relative riches through the league next season, the possible financial ramifications of defeat were clear.
Tension took precedence over silky football, the nerves grew as time slipped away, but none of the previous 118 minutes mattered when Gormley decided a nail-biting tie in dramatic fashion by forcing in Bobby Barr’s low cross.
“That wasn’t enjoyable,” admitted Bayview boss Billy Brown. “It’s not gone East Fife’s way very often this season but we’ll take it. I thought we were going to penalties but we showed a bit of balls there.”
A swirling wind made life difficult both in defence and in attack and the team with the elements looked favourite to break the deadlock throughout. That it took two penalties was no surprise.
Berwick struck first on the hour when Steven Campbell was controversially adjudged to have felled Dylan Easton, allowing Darren Lavery to convert from the spot.
East Fife’s equaliser came in bizarre fashion 17 minutes later when Scott McBride’s penalty, awarded for a foul on David Muir, was saved, only for Berwick replacement Kevin McDonald to knee the rebound into his own net.
“It’s a sickener to lose it so late on,” confessed Berwick manager Ian Little. “I thought we at least deserved penalties.”