Pic: Steven Thomson drives forward for Berwick v. Montrose ( Photo copyright of Alan Bell )
Saturday, December 17th, 2016 SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 1 MONTROSE 2
With the sides having played out a goalless draw at Links Park in September and both struggling in the wrong half of the table, a close game was a distinct possibility. Berwick were without Jonny Fairbairn because of a groin injury meaning manager John Coughlin had little option but to throw in new, initially short term signing, Pat Scullion alongside Brian Martin at centre back.
Rangers lost for a number of reasons. Some players gave the impression of not knowing the offside law or cannot fathom how to beat an offside trap. On at least four occasions in the first half, promising attacks came to nothing when linesman Craig Wilson raised his flag.
Secondly, Montrose made the most of Rangers’ vulnerability at full back with Kevin McKinlay in particular, struggling. Ironically, the visitors, whose home ground boasts a plastic playing surface, coped much better than Rangers on a sticky grass pitch.Then there was the miss of the match. Minutes into the second half, with the score still at 0-0, Michael McKenna slipped the ball through to Greg Rutherford. Though trailed all the way by a Montrose man, the advantage was with Berwick’s number 9. A few yards out, he released his shot. It looked good with some home fans ready to celebrate only to see the ball skim the goal line and Montrose were saved.
Berwick opened the game sprightly. Jordyn Sheerin fired over the bar and Montrose striker Gary Fraser was back to clear from McKenna. With Montrose expecting him to pass, Stevie Notman went for an off target crack from 25 yards.In the 12th minute, there was a scare for Berwick. Despite three Rangers supposedly guarding their left corner area, Montrose engineered a low cross into the box, Kevin Walker making a good save from Terry Masson. Notman now won plaudits for stepping in to stop Fraser’s attempt to smash home the rebound. In the 35th minute, Berwick’s defensive wall blocked a free kick from Paul Watson who then volleyed the returned ball over the bar. Just before the break, he let rip from outside the box, but the ball travelled diagonally away from Walker’s goal. The Angus men took the lead ten minutes into the second half. No home player managed even a stab at a ball sent from the right flank allowing Ryan Ferguson a neat finish on the other side of goal.
Three minutes on, Jordan Millar saved from Rutherford giving Darren Lavery the chance to do better but his shot was too high. Millar appeared to injure his nose making the save and play was held up for almost three minutes whilst he received onfield treatment. Berwick drew level in the 64th minute. Lavery’s run set it up, the move ending with McKenna slotting the ball through Millar’s legs. With Rangers’ players struggling to keep their footing, Montrose struck again 11 minutes from time. Chris Templeman got the ball over from the left, Jonny Court getting a touch to put it past Walker, the double act fully justifying manager Stewart Petrie’s decision to bring the pair on in a double substitution seven minutes earlier.
A sustained spell of Berwick possession ended with Lavery floating the ball beyond the goal and Scullion was a little wide with an attempt from outside the penalty area. Cammy Ballantyne might have finished off Rangers but, perhaps surprised by the ease with which he got away down the right, ended his run by tamely giving Berwick a goal kick. Rangers had one more chance before Templeman’s late time wasting volley. Samuel Perez head flicked the ball to Sheerin. It was a lovely finish but the offside flag, this time of Stand side official, Mr Lawson, was already up before Jordyn drilled the ball into the corner of the net.
Berwick Rangers: Walker, Hamilton ( Beveridge 81 ), McKinlay, Notman, Scullion, Martin, Thomson, Lavery ( Perez 87 ), Rutherford, McKenna, Sheerin