Albion Rovers 2 Berwick Rangers 0
( Saturday, April 4th, 2015 )
The sun was out at Cliftonhill Park but it shone brighter for the home side with a victory which boosted their prospects of finishing the season as SPFL 2 champions. The Coatbridge club’s cause was helped by their main title challengers Queen’s Park dropping two points after a 2-2 draw at bottom club Montrose. Home fans were very happy on the final whistle including the elderly drummer boy who aimlessly banged on his tin toy—an Easter present, perhaps?—for much of the match.
The result means that Berwick failed to beat Rovers in four league encounters this season though of course, Saturday’s venue was where Rangers progressed to Round 5 of the Scottish Cup with a replay win in December.
For a long time, it seemed as if this one might finish level and goalless. Albion missed a golden chance to take a first half lead after Mark McGuigan avoided the offside trap and was left with Michael Andrews to beat but Berwick’s keeper positioned himself perfectly to block McGuigan’s shot. The striker got a second chance but this time was foiled by Kerr Young with Andrews, behind him, also well placed to perform again if necessary.
Rangers’ best chance was created by Andy Russell who worked his way into the box and squared the ball across the front of goal. Blair Henderson was the only man in the vicinity but had arrived too soon and was unable to turn to make decent contact with the ball.
Rovers went in front a little after the hour having gained possession from a poor touch by Berwick’s Kyle Wilkie. Chris Cadden’s low strike was into the bottom corner of the net. In contrast, Rovers’ second goal just after 70 minutes was a header. The Rangers’ defence, as often this season, looked vulnerable when confronted by men with pace and appeared ragged as a cross came in from the right. This time, McGuigan, on his own at the far post, could hardly miss.
A third goal for the home side would have been a trifle tough on Berwick but Rangers never seriously looked like pulling one back. The recent run of five matches in fifteen days was probably taking its toll.
Two Rovers and three Rangers were booked. Scott Maxwell was Berwick’s first but seemed hard done by as not everyone was convinced he had played the man rather than the ball in a midfield tackle. Young’s and Jonny Fairbairn’s names were also taken.
That there was only a small contingent of Berwick fans amongst the 439 crowd was testimony to a feeling that Rangers’ season is drawing to an end. They now need only one point to be certain of avoiding finishing bottom and, with four games left, are still only 5 points behind fourth placed East Fife. This prompts two questions. Can the players produce a final flourish to garner enough points to steal fourth spot and a promotion play off place and on this season’s performances, would Berwick deserve to do so?