Ross Graham throws in for Berwick ( Photo courtesy of Iain Badger )
ANNAN ATHLETIC 4 BERWICK RANGERS 1
Berwick Rangers made an undignified exit from the William Hill Scottish
Cup despite leading 1-0 at half time and still being in front going into
the last half hour of the match. Rangers started with a 4:4:2 formation.
That had to change after the 29th minute when each side had a man sent
off following a touchline incident.
Clearly seen by the Berwick fans in the main stand on the opposite side
of the field was Smart Osodalar raising an arm to Jonny Fairbairn.
Referee Gavin Duncan immediately showed the Annan man a red card. A
scrum of heated players gathered and after it broke up, the travelling
support was mystified as to why, after conferring with his linesman, the
ref also dismissed Fairbairn.
After the game, Berwick’s captain explained he took hold of Annan’s
agitated number 11 to restrain him, an action interpreted as violent
conduct by the officials.
Robert Wilson was rewarded with the number 6 shirt after a good midweek
showing for the Development League team but made a shaky start.
Penalised for climbing, when the resulting free kick was played into the
penalty area, his mix up with keeper Kevin Walker gifted Annan a corner.
The home side were awarded another corner by the ref despite no flag
being raised by his assistant but this controversy paled into
insignificance compared with what was to come.
Annan continued to make the early running but danger man Osodalar was
largely kept under wraps by Berwick’s offside trap. By about the twenty
minute mark, Berwick were starting to look more confident in attack. One
move featuring Finn Graham and Michael McKenna had the home defence
working overtime to crowd out strikers Blair Henderson and Darren Lavery
to stop either getting a hit of the ball.
Three minutes after the reduction in numbers, Rangers did go ahead. A
persistent Dwayne Coultress pushed forwards and then shot low into the
far corner of Jordan Hart’s net.
With high punts downfield, Annan attempted to make the most of the
bounce of the ball on the artificial surface and the absence of
Fairbairn’s aerial prowess but this ploy proved unproductive.
Up to the time of the equaliser, Rangers’ fans remained in good spirits.
It resulted from a penalty. Bryan Gilfillan went down inside a crowded
box as a corner ball came over, apparently pushed, and Peter Weatherson
comfortably took advantage from the spot.
At this point, Coultress, who had generally had a good game, was
replaced by Ross Drummond, who, like the rest of the defence might wish
to forget the final segment of the match.
Josh Todd gave a warning of things to come when he easily got past Ross
Graham before planting the ball past Walker. It didn’t count. The
referee concurred with the Berwick fans that there had been a handball
and Rangers won a free kick.
Annan, faster in thought and deed, returned to the long ball game but
the passes were lower and more accurate leading to a catastrophic ending
for the visitors. Their defence was all at sea as Todd gave Athletic the
lead on 69 minutes. He then sent a classy inside ball to Rabin Omar who
was only denied a goal by Walker’s legs. But there would be no respite
The defence was sliced open again, Weatherson leaving Drummond standing
as he turned inside to beat Walker. With six minutes to go, another long
ball–from the home keeper–got through to where he wanted it and Omar
finished off. Sub Stuart McColm might have made it five but for another
save by Walker.
Berwick managed to conjure up a few late raids. One was launched by
Walker’s long kick. Henderson flicked the ball on to Andy Russell but
the lack of conviction in his shot over the top was symptomatic of a
dispirited team. It was all in marked contrast to the previous week’s
battling second half display v. East Fife.
Henderson, McKenna and Notman were all booked for needless
indiscretions. Rangers’ discipline should be another worry.
Berwick Rangers: Walker, McNeil, Ross Graham, Notman, Fairbairn, Wilson
( A.Russell 81 ), McKenna, Finn Graham, Henderson, Lavery, Coultress (
Drummond 63 )
***Berwick fans might have a chance of seeing something more encouraging
when the Development League team host Alloa Athletic at Shielfield on
Tuesday, October 27th in a match brought forward a week. Kick off is at