Tuesday, October 24th, 2017
SPFL Development League East
FORFAR ATHLETIC 4 BERWICK RANGERS 2
Illness and injuries compelled Berwick to field players out of position in a starting eleven which showed five changes of personnel from that which lined up against the same opponents at Shielfield last month. Ewan Herriot moved inside to captain the team from centre back where he was joined by a new trialist. As a result of further reshuffles, Rangers ended up playing the final half hour with only one of the back four, Ross Aitchison, in his usual position.
Forfar’s starting combination showed six changes from that visit to Berwick and was the stronger for that. Crucially, one, man of the match Ben Starkey, scored twice and had a hand in another goal. At one stage his impressive repertoire prompted a shout from a spectator, ” Get him in the first team!”
The home team began in confident fashion with some pre-rehearsed moves, several culminating with Michael Kennedy’s crosses from the left. One was inch perfect for Jamie Gill but luckily for Berwick, he headed straight at MacAulay Jarrett’s chest. Kennedy was not content to stay out wide and on one occasion, it took Paul Simpson’s last ditch intervention to halt him after he drifted in closer to goal.
However, it was Berwick who took the lead after 14 minutes. Keeper Jacob Otto attempted to clear a back pass but his kick was charged down by GRANT ROSE, playing his first match for Berwick since injury at Kirkcaldy almost a month previously. There was no need for Rose to make sure with a second touch as the ball continued into the net.
Forfar equalised just two minutes later. The ball was played through for Starkey. A tenuous foothold on it by Berwick’s trialist back proved insufficient. The momentum was with STARKEY and he reclaimed the ball before beating Jarrett.
The doggedness of Gary Windram, playing in central midfield but moving forward at key moments, enabled him to get over a cross which Bradley Barrett flashed wide. A better chance came from Barrett’s excellent pass which put Kieran Jack away with only Otto to beat but the goalie made a one handed save.
Forfar were winning the corners and from their fourth to date, on 38 minutes, MATTHEW AITKEN headed into the top corner of the net to make it 2-1 at half time.
Seconds into the new half, that became 3-1. Starkey sparked the move and Aitken passed across for KENNEDY’S simple finish by the far post. Berwick almost pulled back an unlikely one. The trialist back sent a speculative punt from halfway towards Otto’s goal which just to make sure, the keeper was forced to push over on to the roof of his net.
Forfar strengthened their grip in the 55th minute with the best goal of the game. STARKEY, previously with Dundee United, left a trio of Berwick men floundering before hitting the ball low into the corner of the net. With Rangers’ defence continuing to struggle, Jarrett used both hands to punch away Kennedy’s shot.
A rout beckoned but didn’t materialise as the visitors began to rally. Simpson, now in a more familiar attacking role, got through but at close quarters, Otto took care of his attempted chip. Rangers had a let off when Gill headed wide after Kyle Clark waltzed his way forward before they cut the deficit in the 78th minute. Simpson’s speed again took him into the box where he received a hefty shove from Conor Samson resulting in a yellow card and penalty put away by SCOTT SUTHERLAND.
Forfar were now feeling the heat as Berwick won three corners in a row before Simpson blasted over and Aitken soon picked up a caution for not retreating at a free kick. Rangers had one more escape when Jarrett adroitly used his feet to thwart Aitken after Joseph Johnson created a late chance. Under the circumstances, a fifth goal would have been tough on a spirited Berwick team.
Berwick Rangers: Jarrett, Aitchison, Simpson, Murray, A.Trialist ( Dolan 60 ), Herriot ( capt. ), Jack ( Briggs 65 ), Windram, Rose, Barrett, B.Trialist ( Sutherland 46 ) Unused sub: Allan ( GK )