In front of 240 spectators, Vanarama National League Gateshead were comfortable winners of this pre-season game. The ‘Heed’ finished 9th last season but on this form could well do better this time. Even allowing for their full time status, for a side with so many new faces, they seemed to gel particularly well.
Berwick boss John Coughlin was forced to reconsider his plans when Hibernian recalled loan player Sean Mackie to play for their Development team on the same night.
The game produced a few oddities. Gateshead’s Jamal Fyfield was listed as no. 18 despite wearing no. 20. One phase of first half play was allowed to continue despite the receiver of the ball, Darren Lavery, clearly offside. In the second, Toby Ajala got away with taking a corner kick with the ball planted almost a yard outside the designated arc.
A bigger worry was when Lee Hamilton lay on the ground after a Gateshead elbow connected with his jaw after ten minutes play. Medical staff brought on a stretcher before Hamilton managed to get back on his feet. After a short spell beyond the touchline, he returned to play the rest of the first half.
Apart from the opening 25 minutes, Gateshead dominated. Even in that more evenly balanced period, Rangers did not seriously threaten first half keeper Dan Hanford. At the opposite end, Sean Brennan saw Paddy McLaughlin’s 22nd minute snap shot from outside the area, fly over his bar.
Gateshead won their second corner on 35 minutes from which Ryan Bowman got in a goalbound header. Stationed on the line, Graeme Beveridge managed to block it with his body.
The Tynesiders went ahead five minutes before half time. Brennan was compromised by Brian Martin’s weak back pass and, as Bowman nipped in to take the ball, impeded him. Bowman duly converted from the spot himself. Brennan than slapped away an angled effort from Gus Mafuta as the men in white sought to double their lead.
That eventually happened eight minutes into the new half. Sam Jones shrugged off Martin’s would-be tackle and exchanged passes with George Smith before confidently posting the ball inside Kevin Walker’s near post. Walker threw himself to his right to save a Danny Johnson free kick but the same player was successful on 71 minutes. Smith swung the ball across the box behind Rangers’ rearguard and Johnson turned it in by the far post.
Ajala made it four with a second penalty three minutes later after a foul by trialist Josh Peters. The closest Berwick came to scoring all night was Allan Walker’s 20 yard free kick awarded after Jordyn Sheerin was fouled. It was heading in the right direction but took a deflection off a ‘Heed’ head for a corner.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan (K.Walker 46), Hamilton (Hogg 46), Martin, Notman (Ingram 87), Wilson (Bauld 70), Fairbairn, Beveridge, A.Walker, Thomson (Trialist 46), Lavery, Sheerin.
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust. The club are currently looking to recruit a new match reporter for the 16/17 campaign. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.