Wednesday, April 17th, 2018 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 0 STENHOUSEMUIR 0
At the sixth time of asking in 2017-18, Berwick Rangers finally got to play Stenhousemuir at home. For the third time in four matches, Rangers failed to score. This would not have been the case had Stenny keeper Chris Smith not saved a first half penalty.
With Berwick now safe from relegation, there was much more at stake for the visitors as they seek to consolidate their position in a promotion play off spot. Berwick took the opportunity to give Robby McCrorie a rest with Sean Brennan taking over in goal and Under 20s’ keeper MacAulay Jarrett on the bench.
In the opening stages it was all Stenny with two immediate raids into the Berwick box. After only three minutes a 30 yard strike from Ruaridh Donaldson skimmed the top of Brennan’s bar and then Alan Cook fired way over from even further out.
It was ten minutes before Berwick put together their first serious attack initiated by Smith’s poor clearance straight to Aaron Murrell. Keiran Stewart supported Murrell as Rangers again pressed, this time, instead of a corner, Jack Hamilton almost scored with a cheeky back heel.
Three more chances fell to the visitors. Harry Paton turned to fire over the bar from just beyond the box, Eddie Ferns put Andrew Dallas through but Brennan, right in the firing line, stopped his shot and when, at the far post, Cook got a foot to Paton’s cross, Brennan knocked the ball away before it could cross his line.
Inaccuracy with the final pass was the cause of several promising home attacks going to waste but Berwick were handed a golden chance to take the lead in the 39th minute when Donaldson scythed down Steven Notman as he entered the penalty area with the ball. Smith guessed correctly which way Murrell would aim and it was Rangers who might have found themselves a goal down if a great ball from the left by Ferns had not evaded two fellow Warriors ready and waiting near the opposite post.
The second half began with saves at either end. Gary Phillips surprised Smith with a long stinging shot to which the Stenny custodian managed to get a fist. Brennan dropped on to his line to again thwart Cook when a goal seemed a near certainty. Arguably, Berwick played the better football in the second half and some smart ball play on the ground ended with Hamilton unsuccessfully trying his luck from far out.
As Stenhousemuir got back in the picture, it took two headers from Berwick players and a blocked shot before Innes Murray’s corner was safely cleared with a mighty hump downfield. Full back Ross Meechan was not far off target with a curling shot and later hit the post. Martin Scott swung the ball wide after Stenny won a late free kick but generally, the visitors did not look like the well oiled machine which had twice ripped Rangers apart at Ochilview earlier in the season.
The teams meet again, same time ( 7:45 p.m. ), same Shielfield venue, next Tuesday, April 24th.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, Fleming, Orru, Notman ( O’Kane 74 ), Lavery, Murrell ( Thomson 72 ), Phillips, Stewart, Wilson, Hamilton, Todd
Stenhousemuir: Smith, Meechan, M.Dunlop, R.Dunlop, Donaldson, Ferry, Ferns ( Murray 65 ), Paton, Longworth ( Scott 79 ), Dallas, Cook
Pictures courtesy of Ian Runciman