Report: Berwick Rangers 1-0 Vale of Leithen

A new-look Berwick side got the new campaign off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win over a very game Vale of Leithen side.

Jordan Sinclair’s spectacular 30-yard free kick was enough to secure all three points for The Dream Team, who fielded six debutants in the starting line-up. 

Sinclair, Dougie Horne, Ryan Finnie, Jo Purves, Grant Nelson and Lewis Allan were the new faces, with manager Ian Little opting to field a midfield diamond. 

However, Berwick were thankful early on for goalkeeper Dougie Horne. A cross from the Vale right landed at the feet of Donovan Ndweni but the winger’s near post effort was turned away by Horne.

Berwick’s attacking play was promising with Forster, Nelson and Calum Smith consistently linking up down the right hand side and causing problems for the Vale defence. One such occasion resulted in a Berwick corner which Vale were just about able to get clear before Smith could pounce. 

Both sides were struggling to create any clear openings as both defences stood strong until the final ten minutes of the first half. Berwick once again worked the ball out to the right hand side where Forster delivered a low cross into the area. Vale defender Michael Robertson got the ball caught under his feet and was robbed by Calum Smith, whose left footed shot was tipped over spectacularly by keeper Ben McGinley. 

It was the first clear chance Berwick had but they were almost caught out on the stroke of half time. Vale’s pace up front had posed some problems throughout the first half and they broke from a Berwick corner, releasing Jonny Grotlin down the right hand side. The striker had support and only one defender to beat but opted to shoot, blazing the ball over the bar. 

Both sides entered the dressing room at half time goalless but the game sparked into life just minutes into the second half. Calum Smith was tripped by Vale captain Ger Rossi in the middle of the park around 30 yards from goal. Sinclair assessed his options and smashed an incredible strike in off the crossbar. It was a moment of genuine quality and a tough bar for the Goal of the Season competition already. 

The goal energised Berwick and they were denied a second minutes later when Calum Smith’s shot was stopped by the legs of McGinley. 

Vale’s attempts to go forward were dealt with by the Berwick backline with ease but they had a huge opportunity to pull level with fifteen minutes to go. Berwick were unable to clear their lines and a high cross from the left caught Jo Purves underneath it. The ball landed at the feet of Grotlin but the forward couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet in time before Purves got back and defended the danger. 

Both sides tired towards the end but Berwick had chances to add to their lead. Calum Smith headed wide from a corner before substitute Dan Purves shot wide from 12 yards. There was another opening in stoppage time too as Vale pushed forward when debutant Kieran Somerville, on for Lewis Allan, broke but his square ball was just out of reach of Calum Smith. 

Those missed chances would not matter though as Sinclair’s rocket was enough to secure the three points. While hardly a vintage performance from Berwick, three points and a clean sheet are the perfect start to the season ahead of a difficult away trip next week against Caledonian Braves.