Berwick slipped to a third Development League defeat in a row at Ochilview in a game in which they were never in front.
Stenny were quick out of the blocks and Rangers barely got a look in during the first ten minutes. Anthony Marenghi shook the bar with a thumping shot from 35 yards but the bigger danger came from the other side of the field. For the entire first half and much of the second, Paul Nash stuck like glue to his right wing and with telling effect. He paved the way for the 8th minute opener with a flat cross into the penalty area. No defender came close to getting a touch leaving Lewis Small to score. A minute later, James Redpath was almost on target with a header which also hit the bar.
Play was marked by some committed tackling, too much so in the case of Rhys Craigie who was booked for clipping Charlie Denton’s ankle as Berwick’s battling skipper streaked away from him. Denton, operating in midfield, was Rangers’ top man, always willing to take on the opposition as well as creating two of the Berwick goals.
Robert Wilson used his physique and relatively greater experience well when called upon to tidy up at the back though just ahead of the half hour mark, Rangers’ defence again failed to cut out the danger when Nash got a second chance to send the ball over after his initial corner was blocked by Ethan Anderson. This time, Kieran Millar stooped to knock the ball home.
A confident four man Rangers’ move was worth a goal but they had to wait another thirty seconds before Wilson headed in Denton’s 34th minute corner.
Early into the second half, Scott Russell charged down keeper Dean Shaw’s kick and the ball almost rolled into the net. However, he soon claimed a goal by heading in Denton’s excellent cross. In between, Craig Cockburn made the save of the night, rising to tip Nash’s long shot over the bar.
Only a few minutes of the second period had passed when Stenhousemuir brought on 34 year old Colin McMenamin whose playing career reads like a gazetteer of Scotland with Falkirk, Dundee, Queen of the South and Ross County amongst his previous clubs. Now on the Warriors’ coaching staff, he was involved in the move which led to the hosts retaking the lead. Millar finished it with aplomb and two minutes later, Small headed in a Nash corner. So, two goals in two minutes and a double brace for the hosts.
Andy Russell, who did not enjoy the happiest of nights, spurning a number of potential scoring chances, finally got on the scoresheet in the 67th minute. Rangers had a lucky break. It was a classic ball to hand moment and marginally inside the box at that, but centre half Liam McCroary was duly penalised and ‘Rusty’ powered in the spot kick.
With the Berwick defence waiting for an offside flag which didn’t materialise, McMenamin missed a sitter; not something likely to be in his coaching manual. It further encouraged Berwick as they went flat out realising that a point at least was within sight only to be finished off by a rather soft goal. Ryan Smith’s weak shot dribbled over the line at snail’s pace after it took a deflection with Cockburn having already dived to his left in anticipation of its original direction.
By the end, referee Ross Menzies had added two more names to his ‘bad book’; Berwick’s Barry Hogg for tugging at Small’s shirt and the home player Alistair Petrie for scything down Scott Russell as Rangers piled on the pressure when they were striving to make it 4-all.
Berwick Rangers: Cockburn, Herriot, Anderson, McConnell ( Sheridan 66 ),Wilson, Dolan ( Forrest 66 ), Denton ( capt. ), MacKay ( Banjo 46 ), A.Russell, Hogg, S.Russell
Report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.