Neil Oliver: ‘Continuity has been the key to our success’

Berwick Rangers Under 20’s co-manager Neil Oliver has revealed that the continuity between squads over the past season has been the key to unlocking the improvement the young ‘Gers side have enjoyed so far this season.

Under 20's manager Neil Oliver returned to the dugout at Shielfield on Wednesday evening

Under 20’s manager Neil Oliver returned to the dugout at Shielfield on Wednesday evening

“We’ve a great team spirit and we’ve only lost once at home. We’ve managed to put together a squad which has quality in all areas, and the continuity in the squad from last season’s to this was a must.”

Since the turn of the year Berwick’s development team have lost only twice, and Oliver also reveals that he beleives the creative freedom the players receive as key to the side’s form.

“I’m always encouraging the boys to get on the ball and express themselves, to make themselves available for the pass and not to worry about making a mistake.

“Of course, I’ll also still stress that I want the team to win the game – that is part of their development too. It’s important they understand how to manage games and win football matches.”

And though the ‘Gers didn’t manage to take all three points at Shielfield Park on Wednesday evening, Oliver did show his belief that his youngsters deserved more from the game.

“Credit to Stenhousemuir, they were well-organised and made us work hard for everything we got. They carried a threat up top all night and looked dangerous over the top. Thankfully we had Mark (Walters) there to prevent them from netting anymore with some great stops.

“But in honesty, I thought we were the better side on the night. We’ve had a few of chances to win it late on, hit the post twice and had what I believe to have been a stonewall penalty shout turned down.

“I’ve maybe seen us pass the ball a bit better, but we kept good shape and showed good character to come from a goal down, so there are positives to take.”

Barry Hogg, who is also currently on loan at Dunbar United Juniors scored an unbelievable 35 yard strike in the match, and Neil also reserved praise for the youngster.

“It was a fine performance from Barry and that goal capped it off. He’s quite an aggressive player who works hard, he’s box-to-box and is always likely to chip in with a goal.

“He’s getting stronger, has been improving gradually and is still elgible for another year at this level so I have high hopes for him!”

Daniel Watt could be heading to Galabank tomorrow

Daniel Watt could be heading to Galabank tomorrow

But it was pacey forward Daniel Watt who caught the eye of manager John Coughlin who has been a regular at reserve games of late, the manager considering calling the striker up for the first-team’s trip to Annan Athletic at the weekend.

On Watt, Oliver noted: “Daniel is another who I like very much. Centre forward is a very tough position to play. But he is very good at holding the ball up and allowing the team to get up the park.

“He’s links up well with runners and is not frightened to take a knock from behind. He’s always a willing runner who again has a chance of going far with the club.”

The match was the first in a while for former Blackburn Rovers man Oliver who only takes charge of home matches, and the co-boss admitted he was glad to be back in the dugout after the enforced lay-off.

“I must admit I miss it when i’m not involved but I do think its important that one man only is in charge on the night of the game, as that way that person can then put his clear thoughts across to the team without compromise.”