Berwick Rangers Academy were left disappointed in their first home game of their English College FA (North East Division) campaign against Newcastle College.
The homes side were missing defender Kyle Murray and striker Stuart Briggs through injury which gave Lennon Stewart the chance to make his debut for the side.
The Newcastle side started the game more comfortable in possession but the Berwick back three of Ben Fairbairn, Craig Heath and James Moore limited them to rushed final passes and shots from distance.
The tireless Owen Rae closed men down and looked calm in possession whilst any through balls were collected by goalkeeper Scott Alvie who benefited from the slick conditions at Old Shielfield.
As the half went on, Berwick grew into the game and created several half chances on the counter attack with quick, incisive forward passes – the best of which landed to Rhys Bloomfield who found his shot deflected into the side netting of the towering Newcastle goalkeeper Andy Thompson.
From the resulting corner, Bloomfield put his first of many dangerous deliveries into the box which Berwick were unable to attack.
Minutes before the half time whistle Ryan Todd fired Newcastle College into a 1-0 lead with a superb volley from 35 yards. He picked up a loose ball in a crowded midfield and the slight but technically gifted attacking player struck the volley out of nowhere and into the net over the helpless Alvie.
The second half was a much more controlled performance from Berwick. Bloomfield was given a more central attacking position which brought much more attacking play with Ryan Ruddick and Evan Smith heavily involved throughout. The home team grew in confidence and showed some great football at times with the running ability of Smith and Bloomfield and awareness of Ruddick to switch the play.
Against the run of play, Berwick conceded a needless free kick which was lofted into the box. Berwick’s triallist nudged a Newcastle attacker off the ball and a penalty was awarded. The resulting penalty was saved by Alvie who read Cory Ryan’s spot kick and directed the ball into a safe area.
Naturally, the save gave Berwick a confidence boost and they took the game to Newcastle, creating numerous chances in open play and at set pieces.
Smith’s powerful shot at the end of good move came thundering of the bar to Jimmy Kantas who couldn’t stretch to finish. Kantas also found himself in a promising position when he picked up a loose ball from a cross – from the edge of the box the Newcastle goalkeeper managed to parry a great curling effort from him.
From the resulting corner Berwick were again unable to capitalise from an inviting Bloomfield delivery, whilst Rae also found the side netting from another set piece delivery.
Whilst having full attention to scoring the equaliser, Berwick’s defence switched off on a breakaway which was initially intercepted by Moore but not cleared properly and Cory Ryan nicked the ball in a high area and finished well into the roof of the net.
Newcastle College were much more efficient and decisive in both boxes but Berwick can take confidence from the way they dominated in the second half – more clinical finishing could have made the scoreline a lot more pleasing along with the performance.
Berwick Football Academy XI: S.Alvie, E.smith, J.Moore, C.Heath, B.Fairbairn, R.Bloomfield, O.Rae, Triallist, R.Ruddick, L.Stewart, J.Kantas.
Next up for Berwick is another home game vs Middlesborough College on Wednesday 5th October at Old Shielfield, kicking off at 2pm. Any spectators are welcome to come and support the team.