Berwick’s Andrew Irving in the thick of the action against Morpeth ( Photo copyright of Alan Bell )
Saturday, July 8th, 2017
BERWICK RANGERS 0 MORPETH TOWN 0
Berwick Rangers are still seeking their first home pre-season win since a 2-1 victory over Livingston in July, 2012. For what it is worth, they really should have won this one against the 2016 F.A. Vase holders.
From the perspective of the home team, there were two particularly worrying features. One was the lack of creativity and influence in midfield especially during the first half which led to fans’ irritation at the high number of back passes. Nobody wants to pay SPFL prices to see this sort of thing. The other issue was the failure to take chances. Whilst Pat Scullion was very unlucky not to score, Greg Rutherford spurned two excellent second half opportunities.
After making an early one, Berwick keeper Sean Brennan did not have any further direct saves to make but, against another close marking Northern League team, his side largely relied on long balls to try to progress towards the other goal. A notable exception was a good build up down the right before Aaron Murrell, whom the club are now delighted to have re-signed, picked out Steven Thomson whose angled shot skimmed the far post.
Oliver Fleming did well to head the ball off Sean Taylor’s boot after the Morpeth man raced into space inside the box and later, his due attention to Chris Reid prevented a player already booked for a foul on Rutherford from getting in a goalbound header.
Scullion thought he had scored with a header off Thomson’s 25th minute corner. The net shook but only in response to the ball hitting the woodwork. A cross from Andrew Irving to the far post was sent back across goal by Rutherford but didn’t go in.
With the greater share of second half ball, Rangers continued to look more likely to score with the visitors particularly shaky on their right flank. Michael McKenna, later booked for an off the ball charge on Michael Turner, lobbed the ball across field to Gary Phillips, who beat his marker, but his delivery floated out of play. More threatening was Greg Page’s cross from much the same spot. Rutherford seemed certain to score from it but headed the ball outside Karl Dryden’s post. Jordan Orru was next provider but Rutherford with the ball at his feet, saw it swiped away by Reid before he could hit it.
**With some of the squad involved in the Morpeth match, Berwick Rangers Under 20s pulled out of Oban Saints’ round robin tournament on the same day. Amateur club Lochaber Thistle took their place.