Saturday, October 14th, 2017
William Hill Scottish Cup Round Two
BERWICK RANGERS 1 ANNAN ATHLETIC 0
A goal from Pat Scullion helped him win the sponsors’ man of the match award. Other strong candidates for nomination would have included Kevin McKinlay and Michael McKenna, both of whom were involved in the lead up to Berwick’s 70th minute winner. McKinlay was sandwiched by two Annan players as he advanced inside the visitors’ half. He made his way into the box for McKenna’s long free kick and succeeded in getting first touch to it, the ball travelling a yard or two behind him towards the Rangers’ captain who did the rest.
Over the piece, Berwick deserved this win. An evenly balanced first half, in which both sides were guilty of wasting passes, lacked the fire and fury that might be expected from a Cup tie but particularly after Rangers scored, supporters of each had every reason to be on edge. Berwick also had the satisfaction of keeping their former striker Blair Henderson in check, the big man barely managing a single shot. By the same token, Annan’s four man back line kept a close guard on home front man Aaron Murrell.
Within the opening five minutes, Annan got in the first shot….Aiden Smith firing over Robby McCrorie’s bar…won the first corner….punched out by Rangers’ keeper…. and committed the first foul….on Darren Lavery. He was soon fouled again after McKenna’s feint allowed a good ball from McKinlay to run his way.
Steven Notman’s pass presented Murrell with a chance to turn and shoot a few feet wide whilst Chris McDonald’s aim was higher after Gary Phillips held off two would be tacklers as he moved infield from the left.
Each team produced a couple of promising moves in the middle minutes of the half. McKinlay was responsible for disrupting Annan’s pair, the first by stretching to head away a ball he didn’t seem likely to reach, his trailing leg turning the ball away from Dan Orsi to end the other one.
Scullion was closely marked when McDonald sent over a 35th minute corner which still carried enough threat for Alex Mitchell to punch it out. The keeper then palmed away McDonald’s return delivery. Notman was Berwick’s saviour, hooking the ball away from the line after Ryan Sinnamon’s free kick passed over heads.
The visitors’ end of the field was swamped by red shirts to stifle Berwick’s early second half attacks. Further downfield James Creaney collected the first yellow of the afternoon for preventing McKenna getting away after Annan gave away the ball. Despite Athletic winning a couple of corners in quick succession, Berwick were beginning to shade the second half. Close to goal, McDonald narrowly failed to connect with a ball from Lavery. After the goal, Steven Thomson managed to get a touch to one from McKenna but it was too soft to trouble Mitchell.
With 14 minutes to go, Annan brought on Rabin Omar, a player who has regularly caused Berwick trouble in the past but it looked like a different sort of trouble when McCrorie dropped a free kick hurting his shoulder in the process. He was able to carry on after treatment. There were other times when Berwick were briefly pinned inside their own penalty area but with the ball scooting about all over the place on a wet surface, they held their nerve.
Owen Moxon and Steven Swinglehurst were both booked for fouling McKenna before he made way for Andrew Irving to play the last few minutes. Swinglehurst was very fortunate it was only a yellow card for a deliberate trip which in either rugby code would have warranted instant dismissal.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Fleming, Notman, McKinlay, Lavery, McKenna ( Irving 89 ), Phillips, Stewart, McDonald, Murrell ( Thomson 65 ), Scullion
Thanks to Ian Runciman for the images featured.