Saturday, November 4th, 2017 SPFL 2
ANNAN ATHLETIC 0 BERWICK RANGERS 0
Berwick Rangers drew for the first time in the SPFL this season. It was also the first time in ten meetings between the sides on the narrow confines of Galabank that Rangers avoided defeat, the last occasion being in March, 2013 when the teams shared four goals. Manager Robbie Horn made one change of player from the starting line up against Cowdenbeath the previous Saturday, recalling Jonny Fairbairn with Keiran Stewart starting on the bench.
Darren Lavery was moved forward to his old striker’s position but was starved of scoring opportunities. Former Ranger Blair Henderson was more threatening, in one instance heading against the bar and in several others creating openings with some deft footwork.
Though conditions were ideal, dry and bright with only a slight breeze, the first half was a pretty tame affair. In the 11th minute, Henderson beat two men to get a pass to Owen Moxon but his shot went wide. Midway through the half, Pat Scullion back headed Henderson’s cross for the game’s first corner which Robby McCrorie managed to pat away.
The most exciting action came just before the interval. Michael McKenna’s angled free kick was headed towards goal by Oliver Fleming. Steven Swinglehurst, one of Annan’s best on the day, arrived just in time to divert the ball with a downwards header. Annan almost caught out Berwick with a quick break forcing McCrorie out of his area to deal with it. When they came back again, inside that area, it was McKenna who blocked Dan Orsi’s attempted shot.
Giving the latest scores and forthcoming fixtures during the interlude, the announcer twice referred to ‘Clyde Athletic’, perhaps a dig at the Broadwood club whose now departed manager Jim Chapman had moved from the Solway taking a gaggle of players with him.
In the second half, Annan exerted more pressure than Berwick. It began with Moxon’s ridiculously high kick following some more creativity by Henderson. Moxon saw another attempt from just outside the box deflected straight into McCrorie’s arms. The keeper, a strong candidate to be Berwick’s man of the match, made up for too many of his first half kicks travelling directly into touch, with a great save from Aiden Smith at his near post after Annan split open the right wing of the visitors’ defence. It was from the resulting corner that Henderson hit the woodwork.
Berwick were in trouble again when Dan Orsi had only McCrorie for company inside the area. As McCrorie rushed out, Orsi tumbled, inevitably leading to home fans’ shouts for a penalty. After conferring with the linesman, ref Mike Roncone gave a goal kick.
Up to this point, Rangers’ best strike was Steven Thomson’s from 40 yards. It certainly flew but its elevation was a shade too high. One of their few other shots, a McKenna free from 15 yards closer in, was turned away for a corner by home stopper Jim Atkinson.
Also inside the final 20 minutes, Fairbairn’s alertness and hefty clearance prevented the ball reaching Henderson who was unmarked wide of the Black and Gold rearguard. Scullion stopped another ball finding the Berwickshire man whilst McCrorie beat him to it after Rabin Omar also tried to send it his way after cutting inside.
McKenna was behind two late opportunities for Berwick. After he was fouled near the right touchline, Andrew Irving took the free kick but it had too much force for any player to reach. On the other side of the pitch, McKenna beat two players and passed on to Aaron Murrell but he was smartly robbed by Scott Hooper.
So a third clean sheet in four league matches for Berwick but their dearth of scoring chances was again a disappointment.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Fleming, Notman, Fairbairn, Thomson ( Murrell 70 ), Lavery ( Stewart 81 ), McKenna, Phillips, Irving ( McDonald 81 ), Godinho, Scullion