Saturday, February 24th, 2018 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 2 MONTROSE 2
Berwick would be the happier with this draw which saw them take their first point from Montrose in three meetings so far this season. It pushes them a further point towards League safety with bottom club Cowdenbeath losing at home to Peterhead, the Blue Toon making ground on Montrose at the top of the table as a result.
Up to the time that Ousman See found the net in the 23rd minute, Berwick had shown little likelihood of scoring. Montrose were already ahead. The 8th minute build up was impressive, Sean Dillon finding Andrew Steeves with a great diagonal ball from one side of the park to the other. Luck played a big part in what happened next. Steeves crossed into the box and, with defender Robert Wilson in front of him, Gary Fraser looked second favourite to get the ball only for Wilson to knock it past his keeper Robby McCrorie.
With one cross paying off, Montrose tried another couple but they only led to a raised flag for offside. When the ball was lobbed over Rangers’ heads to a yards offside Fraser, he went through the motions of hitting it into the net. Seconds later, See did it for real. McCrorie hoofed the free kick into the away penalty area where See was quickest to react getting in between ex-Berwick man Michael Bolochoweckyj and keeper Allan Fleming to level the scores.
McCrorie turned an ominous inswinging Steeves’ cross over his bar before Graham Webster was booked for a blatant dive in the middle of the field of all places. He thus joined Berwick’s Jamie Todd on a caution picked up as early as the 4th minute for backing into Terry Masson.
It was tit for tat when first Fraser turned to hit another Steeves’ cross against the woodwork and then Fleming felt the full force of an unexpected long shot from Declan O’Kane.
Montrose went in 2-1 up at the break thanks to Fraser’s 43rd minute goal which he fired just inside McCrorie’s near post with the keeper tilted the other way.
When the teams returned, Montrose exerted some early pressure before the game stagnated for a spell with neither side able to keep possession and little in the way of goalmouth action. That changed in the 63rd minute when Liam Callaghan clipped Steven Thomson’s leg. Fleming didn’t see it coming when Paul Willis bent a superb free kick into the net from out on the left.
Montrose soon made a double substitution but the initiative was now with Berwick. Fleming had to lunge to fist away another Willis free after Thomson was again fouled. Gary Phillips was wide after yelling for a pass from Willis. Keiran Stewart was way over after Phillips went past several blue shirts on his way inside. Darren Lavery, named as the sponsors’ home man of the match, put a fine ball through to Jack Hamilton. Despite being sandwiched between two defenders, he still managed to get in an angled shot which wasn’t far off target. Hamilton was also involved in a piece of theatrical knockabout with a pair of Montrose men which referee Craig Charleston ignored probably seeing the funny side. Another feature of the game was the high number of passes Rangers sent back to McCrorie, some when under pressure but others less so.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Notman, Thomson ( Hamilton 75 ), Lavery, Willis, Phillips, Stewart, O’Kane, Wilson, Todd, See
Montrose: Fleming, Masson, Steeves, Watson, Dillon, Bolochoweckyj, Webster ( McLaren 75 ), Callaghan ( Milne 66 ), Fraser, Templeman ( Rennie 66 ), Redman
All pictures courtesy of Ian Runciman.