Berwick’s David Morris controls the ball ( Photo courtesy of David Glencross )
Berwick Rangers kicked off their Development League East campaign on Alloa’s plastic pitch, freshly watered by heavy pre-match rain.
Though the young Wasps were ahead in the corner count, Berwick created more clear-cut first half scoring chances plus several more in the final quarter. Having said that, on this display, Alloa are likely to be one of the top teams in the league this season. Youth supremo Graeme Liveston has a well organised team with every member primed to perform their particular role.
Play commenced four minutes late to enable repairs to one of the goal nets and almost immediately, Paul Carrick missed a sitter right in front of Rangers’ keeper Mark Walters when a perfect cross was sent over from the right by overlapping full back Aron Lynas.
Andy Russell used the left side and Charlie Denton the right to make forceful runs which yielded nothing tangible before Alloa’s more focused passing led to the first goal on 22 minutes. Carrick passed diagonally across field to Scott Hynd. He turned marker Ross Graham and then delivered a slide rule shot low into the far corner of Walters’ net. Little wonder that Everton have been showing interest in him.
Home keeper Andrew Wilson was kept busy, making three saves on the trot, the first one the best. Barry Hogg’s long ball was picked up by David Morris who cut inside to feed Scott Russell. A goal seemed certain but Wilson managed to tip the shot on to his bar.
It was not to be Scott Russell’s night. Again well positioned, he skewed the ball wide after it was nodded down to him by namesake Andy.
Hynd hit the post three minutes into the new half as Alloa set about dominating the third quarter. Rangers were largely kept pinned inside their own half and when they did attempt to break out, were smartly closed down. That the home side struggled to score again was in no small part due to the outstanding 16 year old defenders Dean McConnell and Cal Sheridan but Rangers lost the latter with a head injury after 58 minutes and six minutes later, Alloa doubled their lead. Walters tipped Hynd’s header on to the bar but when it came back down, Layne struck for number two.
The introduction of Ethan Anderson to play wide left reinvigorated Berwick’s attacking play. He created the chance for Andy Russell’s blistering shot which cannoned off the post. The otherwise dependable Wilson got in a pickle when he went to pick up the ball near the bye line only to find Regan Graham breathing down his neck. Other defenders realised the danger and were able to prevent the Scremerston lad turning the ball into an empty net.
The pace never slackened in a match which highlighted the quality product that is the Development League. Berwick fans who don’t usually go should give it a try if they have the chance. However, next week, the team are away again to meet Cowdenbeath, Berwick agreeing to the Fife club’s request for a switch of fixtures.
Berwick Rangers: Walters, Herriot, Ross Graham, Hogg, McConnell, Sheridan ( McDonald 58 ), Morris, Denton (capt. ), A.Russell, S.Russell ( Anderson 65 ), Regan Graham
** Berwick were knocked out of the SFA Youth Cup a week past Sunday ( Aug. 23rd ) losing 3-2 away to Stranraer.