BRFC 1 – 2 East Stirlingshire

Berwick’s terrific start to 2024 was dealt a blow as they lost 2-1 to East Stirlingshire at Shielfield Park in the Lowland League.

The Dream Team took the lead through Liam Buchanan, with his third goal since returning to Berwick. East Stirlingshire fought back with goals from Scott Honeyman and Luke Rankin.

The first half begun with both teams struggling to take control of the play. Berwick’s first big chance of the game came when Grant Nelson did terrifically to keep the ball in on the right. His low cross was met by Liam Buchanan with his shot deflecting wide.

A lot of Berwick’s threat was coming from corner kicks by the great deliveries of Jamie Stevenson. His corner to the back post again fell to the feet of Buchanan. He then swivelled before unleashing his shot that flew just past the post.

East Stirlingshire’s first real chance of the game arrived on the half-hour mark. Shaun Brown drove towards goal before trying an audacious shot from 30 yards out that flew comfortably over Calum Antell’s goal.

In-form Berwick began to dominate the shot count as Liam Buchanan was desperate to get on the scoresheet. Some great interplay between Scott Bright and Cammy Graham allowed the Gers to break the midfield and slip in Buchanan. His dummy set up the shot that was saved at the near post by Ollie Ecrepont. The visitors managed to survive the Berwick onslaught to remain all square at half time.

The players were greeted with a heavy downpour at the start of the second half. Again it was Buchanan at the heart of the Berwick attack as he gathered the ball just outside the box on the right. His pinpoint cross was met by Jackson Mylchreest from six yards out and his header was expertly saved by Ecrepont. Best chance of the game as Berwick pushed for a much-deserved lead.

The Dream Team’s strong work in midfield was on show again as Lewis Barr won the ball high up the pitch. Barr fed the ball to Buchanan who ran into the box and his shot went through the legs of Ecrepont as the ball nestled into the bottom left corner which was greeted by Shielfield cheer. The Dream Team finally get the goal they craved after 63 minutes.

However, the game took an unexpected turn five minutes later. East Stirlingshire’s Scott Honeyman took an in-swinging corner that beat the Berwick defence including Antell with the ball ending up past the goal line without a single touch on its way. Berwick’s late clearance came too late as the ball was deemed over the line by the referee as East Stirlingshire grabbed a freak equaliser.

A frustrated Berwick looked to regain the lead as Jamie McCormack broke down the right-hand side. McCormack’s strong challenge on Jamie Penker sparked fury from ex-Gers player Pat Scullion, who was managing the opposition. The East Stirlingshire manager thought McCormack, who was already on a yellow card, left an elbow on Penker much to the disagreement of Berwick manager Thomas Scobbie. Pat Scullion subsequently received a yellow card for his strong reaction towards the Berwick camp.

The Dream Team continued to have most of the play with sub Jordan Sinclair threading a quality pass through the visitorsdefence to the dangerous Buchanan. The Gers striker had time and space, but his near-post effort went wide in a chance that seemed easier than the one he slotted away earlier in the game.

As the game entered the final stages, Berwick’s frustration led to East Stirlingshire showing their threat on the counter-attack. The impressive Honeyman played in Luke Rankin who managed to jump the challenge of Antell. Rankin however could only manage a tame shot that was cleared by the retreating Joe Ellison.

Two minutes later another long ball by Honeyman gave Rankin a run at goal again. He again got to the ball before Antell. The Berwick keeper was forced to back off, but Rankin’s composure saw his shot send Antell the wrong way and the ball ended up in the back of the net at the near post.The visitors looked to have executed a perfect smash-and-grab away win.

Berwick were left with very little time to find an equaliser. Despite numerous long balls into the box they were unable to score a second. East Stirlingshire held on for the win despite Berwick creating plenty more chances. The Dream Team’s long unbeaten streak spanning seven games comes to an end.Berwick are next in action away to Cumbernauld Colts in the Lowland League Cup on Tuesday night.