Anthony Monin, Matthieu Judor and Zak Khouiel who all featured for Berwick at Bannockburn ( Photo: Loick Mangala )
Stirling Albion 1 Berwick Rangers 1 ( Monday, February 2nd, 2015 )
About twenty spectators, amongst them a Celtic scout, braved the freezing conditions to watch this Development League East game on the artificial pitch at Bannockburn High School. Two well taken goals was the sum of the scoring but both sides had plenty of other chances.
The Glasgow club’s representative will have noted the names of Stirling’s wingers, particularly number 11, Greg Hurst, but it was right winger Stephen Al-Sayed who created the first chance with a cross which Kieron Magennis headed wide.
Berwick learned a lesson when the defence prematurely slowed down expecting an offside flag but the player in that position didn’t touch the ball. Instead, Hurst ran through on to it, his speed and ball control taking him into a promising position. Fortunately for Berwick, he fired across the face of goal.
Rangers’ Loick Mangala was played onside by an Albion defender but the big Frenchman, whose right leg was heavily strapped, fell over inside the box with only keeper Sean Robertson ahead of him. In the opposite penalty area, Magennis came within a whisker of connecting with a Gregor Watson backpass after haring through unsighted.
In the 27th minute, Colin Cameron failed to control a ball in midfield from where it was smartly forwarded to Magennis. Berwick goalkeeper Michael Andrews went low to try to get a touch to the ball but Magennis calmly evaded this challenge to put the hosts ahead.
Berwick hit back with an Andy Russell effort which curled outside the far post. Cameron came closer, rattling the crossbar after stretching his leg to hit a high cross which came over from the right.
The clearly struggling Mangala was replaced by Matthieu Judor before half time, crucially, Rangers reaching that point without conceding another goal to their lively opponents who included no overage players.
After the shortened, onfield break, home centre half Jordan Sinclair was booked for backchat when Rangers were awarded a free kick. He soon had worse to complain about. Ten minutes into the new half, Andrews’ long kick was knocked on by Russell to Calum Helm. The trialist from Tynecastle F.C. made it three goals in as many appearances for Berwick, making ground before beating Robertson from ten yards.
Stirling came under more pressure. After the ball was played from right to left, Judor cut in but Robertson parried his close range shot. Ben Miller struck the post from the edge of the box before heading a Cameron chip into the keeper’s arms.
Stirling’s youngsters still posed a threat and Rangers had to thank Andrews for ensuring they left with a point. A well placed long ball sent Magennis through again. Andrews’ positioning was spot on. As Berwick’s captain on the night explained afterwards, it was literally his big toe which deflected the Albion striker’s shot for a corner.
The result means that Berwick now have eleven points from eleven games.
Berwick Rangers: Andrews, Stevenson*, Watson ( Khouiel 58 ), Wilson*, Monin, Cameron, Bauld, Miller, Russell, Helm* ( Watt* 60 ), Mangala ( Judor 39 )
NO BERWICK CARDS