Highlight & Report: Berwick Rangers 1-2 Stirling Albion – SPFL Ladbrokes League Two

With John Coughlin sitting in the directors’ box following his appointment as manager on Friday, he saw his new side fall to their third successive defeat after visitors Stirling Albion struck two goals in four second half minutes.

David Verlaque netted the first of the two with an angled shot from 15 yards in 55 minutes before Steven Doris made it two soon after, finishing with ease past Kevin Walker after the ‘Gers defence was caught out by a through ball.

Ewan McNeil handed Berwick a lifeline with 20 minutes to go after dispatching a fantastic 30-yard free-kick, but the team couldn’t rally and create anything of note in the closing stages.

U20s coach Myles Allan took charge of the team after Coughlin’s late arrival, and he continued in a 4-4-2 formation with Rangers loanee Craig Halkett making his home debut at the heart of the defence, Graeme Beveridge was back in at left-back, while Ross Drummond was pushed into a more advanced left-midfield role.

After a slow start to the match, Finn Graham had Berwick’s real chance of the day as his 25-yard free-kick went narrowly wide, while a great driving run from Michael McKenna forced a corner which Notman headed wide from.

Sandy Cunningham should’ve put the visitors ahead shortly after the half hour mark when he collected the ball from a deep free-kick but sliced over the bar when well-placed to test Kevin Walker.

Blair Henderson had the ball in the net on 35 minutes but his effort was ruled out for offside – but he should’ve made up for it four minutes later when an excellent move involving Drummond and McNeil saw the striker’s free header cannon off the foot of the post.

But it was Stirling who made the most of two chances in four second half minutes to put them two goals in front. Firstly, Beveridge was involved in some excellent last-ditch coming across from his left-back berth to deny a goal bound effort. But unfortunately the left-back paid for being dragged out of position as the ball made its way to Verlaque moments later on the right and, from 15 yards, he drilled his shot into the far corner past Walker.

And then it was two, with the ‘Gers defence undone by a simple through pass and Doris was able to apply the finish.

Without creating a great deal in response, McNeil gave Berwick a lifeline with 20 minutes to go, dispatching a wonderful 30-yard free-kick after Graham was fouled.

But in truth, for the remainder of the game the ‘Gers didn’t really look like equalising, with Stirling having the best chance in the closing stages as substitute Darren Smith broke free down the right and his fierce shot was turned away well by Walker.

Speaking after the match, Coughlin: “From what I’ve heard of the team, this result is indicative of how the season has went so far. In the first half, I felt as though we should’ve had the game wrapped up. We had opportunities in the first half but just didn’t take them and in the second half we gave away a couple of really sloppy goals.”

The Berwick Army Cadets did a poppy collection at the match which raised a fantastic £221.

By Martin Inglis