Kevin Walker’s header prevented a late East Stirlingshire winner ( Photo courtesy of Allistair Grieve )
EAST STIRLINGSHIRE 0 BERWICK RANGERS 0
( Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 )
Although Berwick Rangers maintained their unbeaten record against East Stirlingshire this season, this game will not linger long in the memory. The first half was at best, average. The second, a little more exciting, especially for the home fans as in the final 15 minutes, their team threatened to score the goal which would surely have been enough to win the match.
Berwick were without the injured Callum Crane and Stevie Notman. Their woes were compounded by the loss of Sandy Cunningham who was poleaxed by Reece Donaldson in a manner of which a WWF wrestler would have been proud. Donaldson became the fifth home player to pick up a yellow card. He was fortunate that it wasn’t a red. After on field treatment, Cunningham went off and then returned. Not for long. Manager John Coughlin withdrew him, the on loan player from Stirling Albion departing for good clutching his shoulder.
Ewan McNeil was far and away Berwick’s top man, time and again putting over crosses which deserved to produce something. On one occasion in the first half, a trio of ‘Shire players tried to pin him in the corner yet he was still able to get the ball over, Darren Dolan saving from Darren Lavery by turning the ball away for a corner. Earlier Blair Henderson flashed another McNeil ball away from goal despite being perfectly positioned right in front of it. Though Michael McMullin kept a close eye on him, Berwick’s leading scorer, too often looked cumbersome.
There was twinkle toes stuff from Lavery but more often than not, it was followed by him giving away the ball. His shooting was sometimes second rate. On 35 minutes, ‘Shire failed to deal with a corner ball. Lavery chested it down only to lob it too high. Early in the second half, unmarked, Lavery was set up by Graeme Beveridge but could only manage a disappointing off target left foot effort.
In the first period, the hosts were incapable of finishing off their more promising attacks. Minutes into the second, Tommy Orr beat both Jordan McGregor and Jonny Fairbairn before hitting the side netting. Orr was emerging as the home side’s danger man and Michael McKenna was booked for bringing him down.
As their confidence grew, East Stirling got in a couple of decent headers though they also lived dangerously at their end, twice conceding free kicks taken by Allan Walker. Dolan made a good save from the first, a feat which helped him win the home man of the match award. No sooner had this been announced than even the home fans were laughing at the referee’s decision to award a free kick against Finn Graham for a ‘foul’ on Ross Fisher. More serious for Berwick was when Orr chased through a bobbing ball given away by Allan Walker forcing namesake Kevin to leave his area to head it away in the nick of time.
Had Rangers won, League status would have been assured. Bottom club ‘Shire remain twelve points behind them but mathematically Berwick are not yet in the clear.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, McNeil ( Wilson 82 ), Martin, Beveridge ( Cunningham 72 ), McGregor, Fairbairn, F.Graham, Stevenson ( A.Walker 59 ), M.McKenna, Henderson, Lavery