Berwick Rangers continued their excellent start to 2013 with a second consecutive victory to put themselves within 4 points of second place in an increasingly congested division.
Early goals from Darren Lavery (11 in 16 games) and a first strike from new signing Dylan Easton during a blistering opening spell were enough to see off a spirited but toothless Shire outfit, who rarely managed to test a happily underemployed Eagle. The good news for both Ian little and another decent home turnout was that despite the looming glamour fixture with the other Gers at ibrox next week, none of his players took their foot of the gas during an intriguing encounter. Easton impressed on his debut with his trickery and direct running style, but overall this was another rock solid team performance with few weaknesses, and with Townsley and Brydon in commanding form at the back, aided and abetted by a season’s best from Damien Gielty at left back.
No side with John Coughlin at the helm turns out to make up the numbers, and his Shire side showed plenty of willingness to graft but they were desperately short up front, despite the rejuvenating effect of revered ex-Ger David Greenhill following his introduction by the away side in the 2nd half. The Eagle and his defence will be expecting a much more demanding afternoon next Saturday in front of 50,000 punters.
Stirling and Maxwell fashioned a couple of early half chances for Shire during their most potent spell of the match, but once Lavery put Rangers ahead in slightly fortuitous circumstances in the 7th minute, latching on to a deflected Janczyk pass and bundling the ball home off keeper Hay, there only looked like one winner and it was’nt the team in red. Lavery should have doubled his tally a few minutes later, running on to Currie’s through ball before slicing his shot carelessly wide with only Hay to beat. Rangers increased their lead with a cracker of a goal in the 17th minute. Janczyk picked up the ball on the left after some good possession from the Gers and curled a peach of a cross to the back post, where Easton crashed a right-footed volley past Hay from the angle. McDonald and Easton both went close as Rangers turned up the heat on a gloomy afternoon, but Shire managed to get to the break without incurring any further losses.
The second half was a more even affair, but Greenhill’s 63rd minute header, well blocked by McCaldon, was the closest the visitors came to getting a foothold in the game. Rangers were less potent in the second period, and Ian little took the opportunity to freshen things up by introducing three attacking players in the shape of Noble, Addison and Carse, none of who did anything to suggest they’ll be under consideration for a starting place at ibrox.
Word is that the manager is still looking to addd to his squad, with a goalkeeper and striker the priorities. Names are in the frame but understandably, the manager is keeping his own counsel until deals have been completed. The big disappointment for Saturday is that it seems Dougie Brydon is suspended, just when the big man has rediscovered his best form. It’ll be interesting to see whether Yano goes with a straight swap at the back – McLean in for Brydon – or a more radical solution, like Notman in as sweeper. No-one expects us to take anything from Ibrox, but this side – when it gets its collective head right and plays as a team – has the ability to cause another upset.
McCaldon 7; Jacobs 7; Townsley 8 ; Brydon 8; Gielty 8; McLaren 6; Currie 7; Janczyk 7; McDonald 6; Easton 8; Lavery 6
Crowd – 473