And then there were three. Edinburgh City’s 2-0 win over Annan ensures the new boys cannot finish bottom of the table in their first season in the SPFL. It also leaves Clyde, Berwick and Cowdenbeath to fight it out to avoid the relegation play off against non-league opposition. All three lost but Rangers were desperately unlucky not to get at least a point from this game doing everything but score. In the final analysis, five key incidents conspired to condemn them to defeat.
The game was only a few minutes old when Darren Lavery played Lee Hamilton into space towards the right corner. He sent over a great ball at ground level. There were several black and gold shirts inside the box but it should have been Michael McKenna’s ball. He could only manage what golfers call ‘a fresh air shot’, meaning the ball and chance were missed.
Montrose scored on 37 minutes. The ball hung around the home penalty area crowded with men from both sides before it fell to Chris Templeman. With his team’s only true first half attempt on goal, he sent a well struck volley into the top right of Sean Brennan’s net.
Taking a pass from replacement Aaron Murrell, Greg Rutherford had three opponents for company but still managed to get in a shot from around 12 yards. A deflection off one of the trio sent the ball on to the top of Fleming’s net instead of into it.
Before kick off, the Berwick players got into a huddle. A signal to the home support that they knew how important this game was and that they were in determined mood? For Montrose too, there was plenty at stake as they looked to cement a place in the top four. After just 5 minutes, Templeman was booked for a foul on Lavery. With his height, a hard man to mark in the air and, despite his ungainly running style, his sheer size made him difficult to deal with on the ground, too. He lost his way a bit after the break though, responsible for ‘distributing’ three passes of varying lengths directly out of play.
Like the visitors, Berwick had only one shot on goal in the opening half, from Steven Thomson, fairly close in but at a difficult angle. Spark then made 40 yards on a run, winding past surprised Montrose men on the way but his final pass to Rutherford wasn’t good enough to set up a chance for the striker.
The second half belonged to Berwick but they couldn’t break through. Thomson opened with a 30 yarder. Not the the hardest of shots but it still had Fleming diving to push it away using both hands. Steven Notman also tried from beyond the box but was wide. Later, inside the area, Notty chested the ball in the right direction after Thomson’s head flicked on Hamilton’s cross but he couldn’t follow through fast enough to beat Fleming to the ball. Murrell had a crack after Brennan’s long punt reached Gary Phillips but he was way off target. There was always the prospect that Montrose would break towards the other end and score again. The most dangerous moment came when sub Barry Ferguson got into Brennan’s territory from the left but was halted by Hamilton’s tackle.