Pic: Steven Thomson ( right ) scores Berwick’s opener after four minutes ( Photo copyright of Alan Bell )
Saturday, August 13th, 2016, SPFL 2
BERWICK RANGERS 2 ANNAN ATHLETIC 0
With the 53rd minute dismissal of skipper Jonny Fairbairn, the metaphorical danger lights were flashing. Would Berwick ultimately rue their failure to build more than a single goal interval lead despite a display of first half dominance?
That goal came as early as the 4th minute. With the ball all over the place on a well manicured pitch, it eventually came the way of Steven Thomson to the left of goal from where he slotted it home from a narrow angle. He then signed off a good build up by testing keeper Blair Currie with a low drive from 30 yards.
More than quarter of an hour passed before Annan produced their first dangerous attacking spell which had the home defence working hard until linesman Graham Chambers’ offside flag signalled its conclusion. The visitors’ defence looked more vulnerable. Jordyn Sheerin teed up a shot for Ben Stirling but a lack of composure by the Hibs’ youngster saw the ball fly too high.
Annan won a corner after gaining a free kick when Fairbairn was adjudged to have nudged Aidan Smith going up for a header. The home support was roused by William Robertson’s crude foul on Michael McKenna as the Berwick man tried to work the ball away from the danger zone.
A second home goal long looked imminent. No luck though when Stevie Notman, following through as defenders crowded out Sheerin, saw his shot blocked by Currie. Nor when McKenna’s impressive footwork provided Sheerin with a half chance only for this time, Jean-Guy Lucas to block the ball for a corner.
Rangers were given a couple of free kicks early in the second half. Allan Walker took both. His first was as soft as Andrex. The second, longer one, curled just outside Currie’s post though the keeper had it covered.
Then the game exploded. Referee Colin Steven’s decision to red card Fairbairn for a two footed tackle on Robertson led to howls of derision especially from the Ducket. Minutes later, Athletic’s David McKenna was shown a yellow card for making contact with Kevin Walker when he went to ground to secure the ball. As much a case of Berwick Ragers as Rangers with many home fans believing he was equally worthy of a straight red.
Apart from his kicking, goalie Walker had a good game and as Annan tried to make the extra man count, he saved from Max Wright. On Fairbairn’s departure, Rangers had brought on Robert Wilson to maintain sufficient height at the back. Annan played into their hands by sending over a string of high balls.
All three points were effectively secured twenty minutes into the second period. Sheerin, whose productivity was matched by Lee Hamilton and Brian Martin amongst others, put McKenna through. As he cut inside, he seemed destined to be stopped but he kept on running before stabbing the ball low into the far corner of Currie’s net.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, Hamilton, McKinlay, Notman, Martin, Fairbairn, Thomson ( Orru 78 ), Stirling, A.Walker ( Wilson 54 ), M.McKenna, Sheerin ( Lavery 86 )