David Banjo went off with a head injury before Annan scored their match winner ( Photo courtesy of Ian Runciman )
ANNAN ATHLETIC 1 BERWICK RANGERS 0
( Saturday, November 14th, 2015 )
Berwick returned to Galabank just three weeks after their 4-1 Scottish
Cup defeat at the hands of the current League 2 leaders, a result which
played a part in the dismissal of then manager Colin Cameron. Now, John
Coughlin was in charge for the first time since his recent
reappointment. Like the visiting fans in the 486 crowd, he probably left
with mixed feelings. There was disappointment with the result especially
as the winning goal came late and on overall play, was barely deserved.
Yet, Stuart McColm’s 81st minute angled volley was a lesson in
finishing, a facet of the game in which Rangers were again found
Statistics suggest Berwick had around 60% of possession, more corners
and more shots on goal. Many of their build ups were confident and
creative but aside of the inability to finish, were often terminated by
a poor final pass.
Clearly, the players knew they had to show the new boss they were worthy
of their places. Graeme Beveridge in the back four, Finn Graham of the
midfield trio and Darren Lavery of the front men stood out. David Banjo
made his first start in weeks. He worked hard but was perhaps not yet
fully match fit. He departed after 70 minutes after receiving a knock to
From the start, Rangers kept the ball on the ground whilst initially,
Annan repeated their Cup tie tactic of trying to unsettle the away
defence with crosses or long, bouncing balls downfield. The nearest they
came to a first half goal was when Matty Flynn headed Steven
Swinglehurst’s cross over the bar. Before this, with more poise and
patience, Josh Todd might have done better on the end of one of those
long balls. Ewan McNeil and Craig Halkett were left chasing him before
he fired wide.
Berwick’s moves were more impressive and Lavery, playing out left, was
involved in three of the best. In the 20th minute, he sprayed a great
pass across field to Michael McKenna. He gained yards but his shot was
stopped by keeper Jordan Hart’s outstretched foot. Darren then worked
his way into the box, found his man again, Finn Graham, but Hart saved
from him, too. Next time, Lavery had a choice of continuing his run and
having a go or pass to Graham. Unwisely, he opted for the latter and it
was a poor pass to boot.
Hart punched away McNeil’s shot just beyond the half hour and rescued
Annan again three minutes from the break. Graham put Banjo through. He
struck from a yard inside the penalty area but Hart’s excellent
positioning led to him smothering the ball.
Beveridge was very much in attacking mode and opened the second period
with an unchallenged run though was eventually off target from 25 yards.
Lavery linked with Banjo but the return ball was another poor one. Ten
minutes in, Graham had the Berwick support gasping with a crack from the
right which whistled just outside the opposite post.
Another great run and ball from Lavery led to a very poor Blair
Henderson effort but the big man was unlucky when he got on the end of a
McKenna/Lavery move only for Hart to tip the ball over the bar. This
save undoubtedly contributed to him being named John Smith’s Man of the
Match after an embarrassing start when he almost sliced an attempted
clearance kick into his own goal!
Once again, Annan made astute use of their substitutes. Grieg MacDonald
and Liam Park came on together at the same time as Ross Drummond
replaced Banjo. However, it was the earlier ‘new man’ who did the most
In a rare lapse of anticipation, Berwick were slow to go for a 50:50
ball which was niftily played to McColm positioned to the left of
Walker’s goal. Rangers’ supporters held their breath but their worst
fears were confirmed as the loud, celebratory music blared out of the
Berwick Rangers: Walker, McNeil, Beveridge, Notman, Halkett, Fairbairn,
Lavery, Banjo ( Drummond 73 ), Henderson, F.Graham, McKenna