Match Report: East Stirlingshire 1-2 Berwick Rangers

Berwick secured their first three points of the Lowland League season with a 2-1 victory at East Stirlingshire. 

A brace from Liam Buchanan put an impressive Dream Team two goals to the good before a late Jamie Penker strike made it a nervier final few moments. 

Stuart Malcolm made two changes from the side that drew 2-2 with University of Stirling with Drew Cummings and Alex Harris coming into the starting line up for Lewis Allan and Cammy Mackay with new signing Bayley Klimionek on the bench. 

Shire have had a difficult start to their season, picking up just a single point from four games but they came out looking to press Berwick early on, making it difficult for the visitors to get any kind of play together. However, that encouraging start for the hosts ended up being all for naught thanks to problems of their own creation. 

Lewis Barr’s cross from the left for Liam Buchanan was slightly behind the forward and he headed well wide but from the resulting goal kick, Jordan Pettigrew slipped and could only pick out Graham Taylor 30 yards from goal. Some neat interplay with Buchanan helped fashion a shot for Taylor which he pulled wide from the edge of the area but, in doing so, the wide man was taken out by former Berwick man Jamie Pyper. The referee pointed to the spot and Buchanan stepped up to coolly slot the ball down the middle to give Berwick the lead. 

Shire were far from disheartened and got straight onto the front foot. Good work saw the ball moved out to the left hand side for Aarron Macalpine, who laid it back to Jack Hodge. The midfielder opted to go for goal from 25 yards but his effort was high and wide. 

Berwick were looking dangerous going forward with Buchanan and Lewis Barr looking lively and last season’s top scorer Buchanan got another chance from his movement. Blair Sneddon stole the ball from Owen Ronald and sent a ball down the channel for Buchanan to chase. The striker squared up Pyper and cut inside but his shot at goal was comfortably saved by Pettigrew. 

Sneddon was also looking impressive at left back, defending aggressively and giving Ronald very little to work with on the Shire right wing. His energy got him to a loose ball on the edge of the area before Sam Young, who could only foul the Berwick man. Jamie Stevenson took the free kick but his effort was too high. 

The chances were starting to come regularly for Berwick with Buchanan getting two in quick succession. First, Grant Nelson’s cross from the right was headed clear by Kyle Ewing and fell to Buchanan but he could only drag his effort across goal and wide before another cross from Barr was inch perfect onto the head of the striker but he could only head it tamely into the ground.

Shire were reeling but they were by no means out of the game and gave Berwick a warning just before half time. Good passing from Shire got the ball to Macalpine who slid the ball through to Ronald, who had switched wings. His first touch was poor and took him wide and he was only able to shoot right at Antell. It also only provided a brief respite to the onslaught of Berwick chances which were starting to get closer.

Buchanan’s movement was causing real problems and he drifted to the right to receive the ball. Berwick’s top scorer ran at Ewing before unleashing a great strike that Pettigrew made a good save from. The rebound fell kindly out to an oncoming Cummings who controlled his strike brilliantly but was denied by an ever better block from Ewing.

Shire managed to hold on to go in only one down at the break and would have been encouraged by the fact that Berwick had thrown away both half time leads they had this season. That fact was also not lost on the away side who came out quickly after half time.

Cummings, impressive in midfield once again, drove forward and played a perfectly timed ball through to Taylor. The winger had all the time in the world but his effort was saved by Pettigrew. It was a massive chance but not one Berwick would come to rue. 

More good passing football managed to work the ball from left to Taylor on the right. He found Barr who had drifted wide and he picked out another brilliant deep cross. Pyper got caught under the ball and it fell perfectly to Buchanan, who controlled and volleyed past Pettigrew to double Berwick’s lead.

Berwick had let a two goal lead slip last weekend and Shire almost got hope that they could repeat that. A combination of Barr and Cummings conceded a free kick on the edge of the area and Hodge curled a wonderful effort over the wall but only onto the crossbar with Antell beaten.

Lewis Allan and Lewis Baker were sent on for Buchanan and Barr to get some fresh legs up top and they almost combined instantly for a third goal. Good pressing from Taylor won the ball high up the pitch and Baker slipped in Allan, whose shot was well saved by Pettigrew.

Baker and Allan were causing real problems for the Shire backline with their pace and energy, with Berwick continuing to create chances. Baker got in down the right and sent a wonderful low cross into the area for Kyle Baker but the sub couldn’t make a clean connection.

Shire were beginning to throw bodies forward, leaving huge gaps at the back and they were nearly caught out. A corner from the right was headed clear and Allan’s pace got him to the loose ball on the left. He sent a first time long ball to Lewis Baker who had a whole half of time and space to decide what to do. Once again, though, Pettigrew done brilliantly in the Shire goal, making himself big and saving Baker’s effort.

With Berwick looking to see the game out, the final few moments turned nervy. Shire managed to work the ball out left to Kyle Connolly and his drilled cross found an unmarked Jamie Penker at the back post who volleyed home.

It would prove to be much too late though as Berwick picked up the first three points of the season. There were a lot of positives to take from the performance where, on another day, the Dream Team could have bagged 4 or 5.

Next week, the team return home to Shielfield as Celtic B are the visitors.