Saturday, November 11th, 2017 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 1 EDINBURGH CITY 1
After three meetings this season, Berwick Rangers are still without a win over Edinburgh City. The last time they played each other, at Ainslie Park in early September, a well struck free kick from Ashley Grimes inside the opening two minutes proved enough for the Citizens to take all three points. This time, it was another impressive free kick which gave the visitors the lead before Rangers levelled through Michael McKenna’s sixth goal of the current campaign.
The goals apart, the 467 spectators are unlikely to remember much from a game which never reached any heights. The opening 20 minutes were as dull as dishwater. City’s Marc Laird’s hooking the ball wide of goal in the 8th minute came closest to what could be described as an attempt on goal in open play. Nine minutes later, after Laird fouled Gary Phillips, McKenna took a free kick from prime real estate, directly in front of goal, if some 35 yards out, but fired a blank straight at keeper Calum Antell.
The game briefly flickered into life when Steven Thomson sent Shaun Harrison the wrong way to get in an angled shot which Antell saved. Immediately afterwards, Robbie McCrorie made an equally impressive stop from Scott Shepherd. Later, McCrorie was forced to go low at his near post to hold a shot from Gavin Malin but generally, he was well protected by his defence which coped comfortably enough with what City, who spent more time in Rangers’ half than the other way round, had to offer. Going the other way, Rangers made little headway. Darren Lavery, back in midfield after playing up front at Annan the week before, struggled to provide decent distribution. Plus, several times Berwick men were caught offside by Edinburgh’s defensive line operating well forward of their penalty area.
Two minutes into the second half, Jonny Fairbairn was shown a yellow card for a foul on Malin. The greater punishment was that Jesus Garcia Tena scored with the free kick, McCrorie unable to stop it flying in close to the post. The goal forced Berwick to speed up and by extension, their own back four’s positioning now mimicked City’s of the first half. They took just ten minutes to level. Thomson delivered a cross from the right touchline. Unchallenged, McKenna timed his jump to perfection to head it into the net.
On 66 minutes, Berwick swapped Andy Irving for Chris McDonald. At the same time, City brought on Grimes. Whilst he was anonymous, McDonald was a busy bee, working to vary Rangers’ line of attack and at one point trying on his own from 35 yards. The shot carried bounce but lacked power.
City were still in it aided by Craig Thomson’s string of crosses from the right but Pat Scullion and Oliver Fleming in particular kept things tight at the back. However, when a free kick from the Ducket side arrived, it took an age for the ball to finally leave the box as it was headed, prodded, sliced and half kicked by men in both teams until McKenna was able to set forth towards the other end only to be pulled back by Laird. He was booked and soon McKenna too, for a challenge on Harrison. Despite the yellow, it was a surprise to many home fans when Berwick’s goalscorer was subbed two minutes later.
Before the end, City won three corner kicks in a row, all taken by Craig Thomson. Scullion claimed that the last should have been a goal kick as McCrorie had not touched the ball on its way out. That may have been a wrong decision but over the 90 minutes, a draw was about right.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Fleming, Fairbairn, S. Thomson, Lavery, McKenna ( Murrell 78 ), Phillips, Irving ( McDonald 66 ), Stewart, Godinho, Scullion