Tuesday, April 24th, 2018 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 2 STENHOUSMUIR 2
From being 2-0 up after 34 minutes, Berwick Rangers were eventually grateful for the point which ensures they will finish above Edinburgh City as well as bottom club Cowdenbeath in the final SPFL 2 table. Both teams showed changes from a week earlier when they played out a goalless draw on the same pitch in another rearranged fixture. These were more numerous within Rangers’ ranks and included the reappearance of Kevin McKinlay after a long absence and Under 20s Players’ Player of the Year Paul Simpson being given his first start in the senior team. For the Warriors, David Marsh wore number 6 instead of Mark Ferry and veteran Colin McMenamin led the attack.
Berwick’s first goal arrived in the 28th minute. Stenhousemuir gave Rangers too much space in midfield. Steven Thomson opted for a long shot which came back off a defender towards Jack Hamilton who turned to unleash the ball into the top right corner of Chris Smith’s net. Hamilton was also involved in the second goal, shaking off the attention of two markers to pass to Willis for an equally convincing finish into the opposite side of Smith’s goal.
Prior to these successes, the home side only once came close, Declan O’Kane hitting the post with a long strike from out of the blue.
Almost from kick off, the Ochilview men had been winning corners, typically in batches of two or three. Eddie Ferns moved over from right wing to left when corners were taken from the right. Harry Paton spotted he was still there when the visitors got back the ball after another flag kick brought their first half tally close to double figures. Ferns chipped the ball into the box allowing Andrew Dallas to reduce Rangers’ lead with a simple header from a couple of yards out six minutes ahead of the interval. Enough time for Stenhousemuir to draw level, Dallas providing the short pass for McMenamin to stroke the ball home, again from close range.
When play resumed, Stenny carried on where they left off. Dallas beat two men inside the box before being crowded out. Jamie Todd almost headed another Ferns’ chip into his own net. Robby McCrorie made successive saves, tipping one shot over the bar then his foot denied McMenamin a second goal.
Both Alan Cook and Dallas fired way over the top. Ferns had the ball on the ground as he rather easily worked his way into the penalty area before Todd intervened with an excellent tackle. McCrorie caught a glancing header by Martin Scott off Alan Cook’s cross and before long, Scott’s head sent the ball not far beyond the post.
Berwick hardly got a look in during the second half, not helped by the loss of the injured Hamilton less than 60 seconds after the restart. Their most promising move of the half, involving a handful of players, broke down when Aaron Murrell couldn’t keep control of the ball and Darren Lavery put in a weak shot from outside the area after Willis squared the ball to him.
Stenhousemuir persisted to the end. Paton orchestrated the last attack of the match with a pass to Thomas Halleran whose shot wasn’t far off target to make it a frustrating night for them in more ways than one. Had they won, they would now be certain of a promotion play off place.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, McKinlay, Thomson ( Phillips 69 ), Lavery, Willis, O’Kane, J.Cook, Wilson, Hamilton ( Murrell 47 ), Simpson ( Fleming 70 ), Todd
Stenhousemuir: Smith, Meechan, M.Dunlop, R. Dunlop, Donaldson, Marsh ( Scott 80 ), Ferns ( Halleran 89 ),Paton, McMenamin, Dallas, A.Cook
Pictures courtesy of Caledonia Photo