BERWICK RANGERS 1 QUEEN’S PARK 1 ( Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 )
Nothing changes at the bottom of Ladbrokes SPFL 2. With this result and East Stirlingshire drawing at Arbroath, Berwick remain two points above ‘Shire who still have a game in hand.
After the previous Saturday’s defeat at Clyde, Berwick boss John
Coughlin made four changes to his starting eleven. Kevin Walker was back in goal. Jonny Fairbairn was recalled to central defence whilst Dylan Stevenson and Finn Graham, who both helped reinvigorate the team when they came on for the final 30 minutes at Broadwood, wore the number 7 and 8 shirts respectively.
If not exactly playing with panache, Berwick opened confidently enough and enjoyed the greater share of early possession. Yet, the closest they came to scoring was Stevenson’s long, low drive which took a deflection for a corner.
Queen’s winning of their first corner on 20 minutes was the cue for
matters to change. It was quickly followed by a controversial free kick from near the right corner flag, Brian Martin adjudged to have fouled David Galt. Sean Burns took the kick which bounced beyond Walker and two Queen’s players positioned in the vicinity of the goal area. It was a warning sign and in the 26th minute, Ryan McGeever headed in another corner ball coming over from the same side.
As the visitors continued to press, Martin fouled Gavin Mitchell. The free kick was put over the bye line by a home player giving the Glasgow team another corner, this time from the Ducket side. However, Berwick evened up matters five minutes from the interval with a headed goal of their own off a corner. Graham sent it over. Jordan McGregor got first touch with his head, on to Martin who netted for the first time as a Berwick Ranger.
The second half was a scrappy affair. Giving an impression he was being paid by the whistle, referee Steven Reid continued to blow regularly to the frustration of the home fans. Another feature was the high number of throw-ins. Nothing to do with the wind. It was a cold but still night. Rather, it was a further indicator of the poor quality of the football.
Berwick got an early scare when Mitchell got the better of a bobbing ball which should have been theirs and tried his luck with an unsuccessful shot from out on the right.
In a rare move of note, Blair Henderson fed Martin to his left. He
lobbed the ball into the box from where it was kicked out but only as far as Stevie Notman who should have managed more than a tame shot which was well wide of the post. Notty partially redeemed himself with a good feed to Callum Crane as he came steaming upfield but he opted to hit the ball on the run and it finished far too high.
Queen’s Park had obviously worked on corners and employed some interesting manoeuvres; either the commonplace scurrying about of a number of players in an attempt to distract and disturb potential markers or a couple of men would bind together to form a mini wall right under defenders’ noses to provide cover for the intended recipient of the corner ball. Rangers’ vulnerability from these set pieces was evident again when Walker almost threw the ball into his own net before it was booted to safety.
Sub Sandy Cunningham tried to lift the home side though was prone to trying to take on one man too many in a team who were pretty good at reading Rangers’ intentions. That they have yet to beat Berwick in three meetings so far this campaign was the only slight consolation for the Shielfield men. In mitigation, this was Berwick’s fourth match in eleven days but it was one they really needed to win.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, McNeil, Crane, Notman, Fairbairn, McGregor, Stevenson ( Cunningham 59 ), F.Graham, Lavery, Henderson, Martin ( McKenna 79 )