Action from Berwick’s 1-0 SPFL Development League win at Ochilview Photo: Loick Mangala
East Stirlingshire 0 Berwick Rangers 1 ( Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 ): Jason Dair was in charge for this SPFL Development League match switched from a soggy Shielfield to the plastic surface at Ochilview and played a day later then originally scheduled. Dair opted for a 4:3:3 formation. Though currently playing Saturday football for Junior clubs, Ben Miller ( Arniston Rangers ) and Jordan Easton ( Tranent ) were included. Rangers blooded three trialists, two from Tynecastle under 19s in Edinburgh plus Daniel Watt from Fife Juniors Ballingry Rovers.
The youthful combination of Anthony Monin and Gregor Watson played with maturity at the heart of the defence. Miller and Dean Horribine had particularly high workrates; Miller often getting back to help out in defence, Horribine unselfishly providing a regular supply of crosses from the right. But the man of the match was Rangers’ keeper Nils Bleakley whose performance prompted one ‘Shire official to enquire, “Where did you get your goalie from?” Amongst his repertoire of saves, the best was a one hander at his near post when Billy Vidler looked certain to level the scores. Bleakley also broke home hearts with two saves in rapid succession as the clock ticked into the final five minutes.
Nils Bleakley ( Photo Loick Mangala )
Not that this game was all one way traffic. The first half finished goalless but for much of it, Berwick were the better team. Horribine twice fired over the bar, first unluckily, the second time, less so and Scott Dalziel drove the ball only inches wide off one of those Horribine crosses. But Vidler’s late first half strike from 18 yards was the pick of the half. Unfortunately for him, it arced outside the post.
The only goal arrived four minutes after the break and soon after East Stirling’s Ross Gilmour hit the bar with a free kick. Dalziel rounded off a four man move by slipping the ball past Sean Quinn.
Monin was booked for a dangerous tackle, more a reflection of determination than malicious intent. He was soon joined in the book by Jordan Tapping, one of several home players to concede free kicks as they struggled to deal with the jack-in-the-box style of Berwick sub Matthieu Judor. Further bad news for Tapping was an off target header late on as ‘Shire pressed in vain for an equaliser. It meant Berwick held on for their first league win of the season.
Berwick Rangers: Bleakley, Stevenson* ( Henderson* 61 ), Maxwell, Watson, Monin, Khoueil ( Judor 61 ), Miller, Gold, Dalziel, Horribine, Easton ( Watt* 61 )