Saturday, December 9th, 2017 SPFL 2
MONTROSE 3 BERWICK RANGERS 0
After their sterling performance against Stirling Albion, Berwick Rangers hit the buffers again as they endured a first half of torment by Montrose who go back to the top of
SPFL 2 as a result of this win. Berwick made one enforced change from the eleven who kicked off in the victory over the Binos, flu victim Stevie Notman replaced by Darren Lavery. Kevin McKinlay wore the captain’s armband making him the third skipper in as many matches.
Rangers had little time to adapt to the bitterly cold conditions before Montrose scored. They worked the ball up the right and into the box. Gary Fraser must have thought it was an early Christmas present when he was left free to hit a cracking volley into the net in the second minute.
A deflection took Aaron Murrell’s shot a foot wide of the post but after that, the visitors rarely set foot in the home half for the rest of the opening half hour, their cause not helped by poor ball security as Montrose continued at full throttle.
Robby McCrorie’s positional sense enabled him to stop Terry Masson’s shot with his legs when the hosts cut a gaping hole through the Rangers’ defence. Montrose soon started to tot up the corners, all taken by Iain Campbell, two in a row headed away before another led to the second goal. Keiran Stewart stopped the ball on the line before Martyn Fotheringham’s shot was blocked. Big Chris Templeman sent the ball into the net at the third attempt on 19 minutes.
Veteran Templeman was noticeably sparing in his exertions during the pre-match warm up which left enough fuel in his tank to taunt Berwick with his Bolshoi style footwork. His team almost made it three when Fraser just failed to get his head to a short cross from Cammy Ballantyne who whizzed past two opposition players on his way in from the right.
Fraser enjoyed more luck in the 28th minute. In meerkat fashion, the goal was guarded by a line in black and gold but the Montrose striker still managed to head home another Campbell corner. Yet another of these caused further panic stations but this time, three Montrose attempts to find the net again were foiled in one way or another.
Home goalie Allan Fleming finally had to make a save from Andy Irving after Berwick made slick progress on the right. It was little wonder that Fleming was between the posts again for the half time kickabout, merely to keep his circulation going.
Past the hour, Berwick brought on Chris McDonald and Steven Thomson. It became a triple substitution even before play resumed. Marcus Godinho, who earlier had been the victim of Andrew Steeves’ late challenge, was down again so was replaced by Callum Donaldson.
Rangers went on to create two good chances. Donaldson sent a great ball into the box which Murrell missed by inches. Gary Phillips and Michael McKenna gave him another opportunity but Murrell deliberated for too long before deciding to shoot which allowed Fleming to get in the right spot to save.
There were a few more scares for Berwick, too. With 20 minutes left, Templeman headed in a cross from home sub Kerr Hay but was offside. McCrorie was forced to race to meet McKinlay’s weak back pass and could only kick it against Ballantyne’s body. The ball rose high and seemed destined to land in an empty net but instead, hit the crossbar. In the closing stages, Steeves, Hay and Ballantyne were in the move which Fraser attempted to finish off with a fancy back heel but the ball ran out for a goal kick.
Even later, fed up with the continued jostling between McKenna and Paul Watson, ref Mike Roncone booked the pair of them. Also shown yellow were Fotheringham for clipping Irving’s ankle in the first half, Steeves for the foul on Godinho and Berwick’s Robert Wilson for dumping Templeman near the halfway line early in the second half.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Lavery ( Thomson 62 ), McKinlay, Fairbairn, Murrell, McKenna, Phillips, Irving ( McDonald 62 ), Stewart, Wilson, Godinho ( Donaldson 63 )