Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 0 STIRLING ALBION 1
On the balance of play, Berwick didn’t deserve to lose this one, never mind be a goal down at half time but the match again highlighted why Rangers’ ‘goals for’ column makes unimpressive reading. After Albion missed a 65th minute penalty, Berwick had two or three real chances of scoring but again finished goalless.
At the start of the game, the teams exchanged corners, Robby McCrorie forced into fisting Daniel Jardine’s upwards. William Robertson should haver done better than scoop the ball high when it came back out to him. Before ten minutes had passed, Stirling lost marksman Darren Smith who was still hobbling after the match. Neil McLaughlin replaced him.
Rangers went on to spend much of the rest of the first half inside Stirling territory but fell behind on 40 minutes. Skipper Steven Notman was booked for a foul. Former Berwick player Ewan McNeil’s free kick from just inside the home half led to a corner after McCrorie saved with his legs. The defence was caught napping as Stirling played the ball on the ground and it was quickly relayed to the unmarked Andrew Little who knocked it into the net at the far post.
Both Ousman See and Alex Petkov tried long shots early in the second period before McCrorie punched away one from Little after some clever Stirling play on the right . Petkov put a good ball into the penalty area for See but he was crowded out by defenders. Paul Willis had no more luck, able only to make minimal contact with a ball Keiran Stewart intended for him.
McCrorie made an instinctive save at his near post from Ross Kavanagh after the ball ran favourably for Stirling’s number eleven. Even more fortuitous was the award of a penalty, the referee ruling that See, back in defence, fouled former Berwick loan player Lee Hamilton. Berwick fans would argue justice was done when Little sent the kick flying over the bar. It was to be his last act, as he was immediately substituted.
With that escape, Rangers stepped up the pressure. See ran in to head an accurate Paul Willis free kick but keeper Cameron Binnie managed to shovel the ball away. Binnie saved from Jack Hamilton and though Willis netted the rebound, the flag was up for offside. Binnie initially failed to hold Gary Phillips’ free kick from the Ducket side and he soon lost the ball to Phillips out wide, the Berwick man probably erring in trying to score directly from the angle instead of squaring to a better placed colleague.
Again, Stirling might have punished Berwick against the run of play but there were no other red shirts in sight as Kavanagh sent the ball across the face of goal from the right after he kept running when the ref played advantage. McCrorie also made a late save from McNeil but as the the final whistle went, Berwick were at the right end but their final corner brought no joy.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Orru ( Murrell 81 ), Notman, Willis, Phillips, Petkov ( Thomson 67 ), Stewart, Wilson, J.Hamilton, Todd, See
Pictures courtesy of Alan Bell