Saturday, March 31st, 2018 SPFL 2
ANNAN ATHLETIC 0 BERWICK RANGERS 0
Berwick Rangers drew for the third successive match, the outcome identical to that when the teams met at Galabank last November. Backed by more than sixty travelling fans and with the wind behind them, Rangers looked the more comfortable team in the first half, winning the majority of corners. One of them, taken by Steven Thomson, hit the bar.
Berwick again relied on Jack Hamilton to carry the load up front. Both he and Paul Willis attempted to score from 35 yards but the result was the same in both instances, the ball travelling too far away to worry keeper Alex Mitchell. Steven Notman also tried from outside the box, Mitchell safely holding this one.
Midway through the first half, Hamilton was clearly annoyed when the referee ignored his claims for a penalty. Later, he was down again after his head took the full impact of Mitchell’s clearance. Referee John McKendrick stopped play for safety reasons. ( He did likewise during the second period when another Berwick player, Darren Lavery, was the victim of a high boot. )
Twice danger threatened when home striker Aidan Smith got through, the first time on receipt of a pass slipped his way by former Berwick man Blair Henderson. On the next occasion, he was halted by Jamie Todd who gave an assured performance on the ground and in the air at the heart of Rangers’ defence.
Annan’s Ayrton Sonkur headed over the bar after Steven Swinglehurst headed on a corner ball before Thomson rattled the metalwork at the other end.
The hosts opened the new half on the attack. Berwick were indebted to Robby McCrorie for coming out to block Scott Roberts’ shot after he cut loose aided by some sloppy play by the men in white. Owen Moxon supplied overlapping full back Jack Brannan and again it was Todd who stepped in to diffuse the situation before Brannan could do any damage from near the bye line.
Declan O’Kane’s constructive play set up two very different Rangers’ chances. Willis was well placed to have a go himself but opted to send the ball across the box hoping for a more certain finish but there was nobody there to meet his pass. In contrast, Thomson released a flyer, Annan saved when it was deflected for a corner.
Two more shots followed of similar intensity. McCrorie appeared to have it covered but Moxon’s was so hard it bounced off the keeper’s chest, sub Ben Armour wasting the second chance. Seconds later, Brannan’s thundered on to the post.
Smith caused a few problems when he began to operate out on the left, in one instance ending his run with a ball into McCrorie’s area. Henderson feinted to let Roberts strike but again unsuccessfully.
Ousman See came on late and as Berwick prepared to take a throw in, Annan posted three men around him, an action which was emblematic of the way that the two teams by and large cancelled out each other over the 90 minutes.
Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Orru, Notman, Lavery, O’Kane, Wilson, Hamilton ( See 83 ), Stewart, Todd,Thomson ( Phillips 79 ), Willis
Pictures courtesy of Ian Runciman