Berwick Rangers missed the chance to put some distance between themselves and East Stirlingshire at the foot of the Ladbrokes league 2 table with a disappointing draw against a team they had beaten 4-0 at Ochilview in December. It was Rangers’ first home league game for almost two months and the heavy pitch was to have a bearing on proceedings.
With skipper Jonny Fairbairn and Stevie Notman both suspended and Brian Martin abroad, Berwick fielded a youthful centre back pairing of Robert Wilson and loanee Jordan McGregor. Another on loan player, Sandy Cunningham, came straight into the team wearing the number 11 shirt. Striker Andy Russell, recently released by Berwick, was in the ‘Shire starting line up.
Berwick made a great start, taking the lead after only three minutes. McGregor scored his first goal for the club heading in Finn Graham’s corner at the near post. A couple of other chances went begging but with Wilson putting in a couple of strong early tackles, the hosts looked capable of containing their Stenhousemuir-based opponents for whom Scott Ferries had looked the most dangerous player. However, in the 16th minute, it was Neil McCabe who levelled with a speculative shot from around 25 yards. Kevin Walker slipped as he went down to save and the ball hit the net.
After this, Berwick’s best chance was a low angled drive from Cunningham but it finished the wrong side of the far post to leave it at one-all at the break.
East Stirling indulged in a noticeably shorter pre-match warm up than Berwick but before the second half kicked off, did a little running exercise in front of the Main Stand. They might argue that it paid dividends for by the end of the match, they were looking the stronger side. However, they fell behind once more in the 69th minute. It was their keeper Richard Barnard’s turn to fall foul of the conditions. He came way out of his goal to attempt a clearance but in the sticky conditions, the ball didn’t travel very far. Darren Lavery seized his chance, calmly and with perfect judgement, directing the ball from distance into an empty net.
If ever there was a good argument to forbid players’ excited goal celebrations, it was what happened next. Berwick barely had time to calm down before the visitors came storming back. First Callum Crane and then McGregor lunged at Aron Lynas as he stormrd down the right but he still got the ball across leaving Thomas Orr to net from right in front of goal. It was a rare error by McGregor who, up to this point, was vying with Finn Graham for the tag of ‘outstanding home player’.
Berwick were fortunate when David McKenna finished a dangerous move by shooting over the bar though level pegging was probably a fair reflection of the ninety minutes’ action.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, Beveridge, Crane, A.Walker, McGregor, Wilson, F.Graham, Stevenson (Morris 61), McKenna (Henderson 72), Lavery, Cunningham
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.