pic: Greg Hurst scores his second goal against Elgin ( Photo courtesy of Ian Runciman )
Saturday, September 10th, 2016 SPFL 2 BERWICK RANGERS 2 ELGIN CITY 4
Six goals but hardly a thriller for the Berwick fans in the crowd of
407. Captain Jonny Fairbairn returned to the Rangers team after a two match suspension. Michael McKenna was also eligible again following a ban but this time missed out because of illness.
Any home hopes that Elgin might still be reeling from the previous weekend’s 6-1 Irn Bru thrashing at Falkirk had dissipated by the 25th minute by which point, the Highlanders were 2-0 up. Four times in the opening 10 minutes they whinged about Berwick tackles. Referee Grant Irvine was having none of it and was consistent in permitting robust but fair contact.
City’s first score came on 11 minutes. Shane Sutherland, Jamie Reid and Chris Dodd were all involved as the ball was worked towards the Berwick right where Ben Stirling never looked comfortable at full back. Brian Cameron got in the shot which Kevin Walker saved but Sutherland banged in the rebound.
Sutherland had a head start on Fairbairn as a long ball came his way up the same side. A few yards on, he passed across to Reid. Walker got a hand to his shot but that only helped the ball on its way into the net.
A third goal looked possible when Archie McPhee followed much the same route and was allowed to cross to the far post but Sutherland hit the side netting.
When Rangers got into the Elgin half they were usually confronted by a double defensive wall as the visitors pulled back men to protect their lead. However, Steven Thomson appeared certain to score in the 36th minute when goalkeeper Stewart Black was caught out. With the ball about to cross the line, the impressive Mark Nicolson arrived in the nick of time to save the day. He then gave Black a bollocking for his indecision.
On 45+1, Berwick were given renewed heart for the second period. Out on the right, Jordyn Sheerin battled to keep possession before delivering to Stevie Notman inside the box. Notty laid the ball back to Greg Hurst to claim his first goal for the club.
Rangers brought on Robert Wilson at the start of the second half and reverted to a three man defence and two wing backs formation. Even so, early on, City twice almost scored with a little help from home players. Reid’s angled effort took a deflection and bobbled perilously close to the home goal. An unintended pass left Chris McLeish with only Walker to beat but he aimed directly at the diving keeper.
Sutherland spotted Reid steaming down the centre with Kevin McKinlay in tow. The Berwick man pressed him into shooting early enabling Walker to slap the ball away. Cameron then hit the post before Elgin brought on Craig Gunn. He barely had time to break sweat before he was arguing with the ref. Gunn was one of three City men to have breached the Rangers defence. Despite no flag from the linesman, Mr. Irvine decreed that at least one of them was offside. A further Berwick reshuffle then occurred with Jordan Orru and Graeme Beveridge coming on together.
Elgin eventually regained a two goal lead with about quarter of an hour remaining. It looked all too easy as Nicolson found Daniel Moore who passed on to Gunn to finish off. Four minutes later, Hurst again raised Berwick hopes with his second goal after Sheerin left defenders in his wake with a storming run up the left which only a tank would have stopped!
Fairbairn was in trouble as Sutherland beat him hands down but Kevin Walker got a foot to the ball before he could achieve a decent hit. No such problem though for Gunn with 5 minutes to go. After an error by Wilson, the ball was once more played to the prolific marksman and he duly notched the game’s second brace. Berwick were denied a late consolation when Darren Lavery headed over Hurst’s corner in the last play of the match.
For Berwick, this was a second disappointing League performance in a row. They got away with it at Edinburgh City but once Elgin went in front, a repeat of that victory never really looked likely.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, Stirling, McKinlay ( Beveridge 69 ), Notman, Martin, Fairbairn, Thomson ( Wilson 46 ), A.Walker ( Orru 69 ), Lavery, Hurst, Sheerin