For the second time in three weeks, Berwick Rangers met Stenhousemuir in the SPFL Development League. It was the team’s first match at Shielfield since late October. Due to late cry offs, joint team coach Neil Oliver called upon Coldstream striker John Crawford as a guest ‘trialist’ and he replaced another local player, Daniel Pattenden, just past the hour.
After an evenly balanced opening ten minutes, Berwick put their foot on the accelerator and frequently made ground with speedy attacks originating inside their own half. Their finishing was less productive. Having worked his way over to the left, Daniel Watt’s 13th minute pass led to a good cross from Dwayne Coultress but no Rangers player was on hand inside the box to hit it first time.
On the other side of the field, Regan Graham forwarded another Watt pass a shade too hard for Pattenden, following through, to make decent contact. Pattenden himself served an excellent cross for Coultresss waiting a few yards in front of keeper Sean Robertson but his lightweight header lacked conviction. Before this, Kieran Ingram’s effort was deflected on to the post for a corner.
Stenhousemuir were handicapped by frequently giving away possession but the latter stages of the half brought an improvement. Rangers’ goalie Mark Walters forced Christopher Snedden to go wide after he picked up a long lob and then saved from Ryan Smith on the end of Snedden’s flat cross. Stenny took the lead three minutes from the interval. Walters almost lost control of a dodgy back pass and, under pressure, hurriedly passed to Ethan Anderson. He was robbed by Snedden who veered to the right to send the ball in the opposite direction into the net.
Less than a minute into the second half, Berwick equalised. Coultress spotted Barry Hogg in space and his stunning strike from 35 yards smashed the back of the net with Robertson rooted to the spot. Yet, it was the visitors who went on to dominate the next part of the match with a change in tactics. The plan now was clearly to get balls over the top of the home defence and rely on the pace of Snedden and Fraser Eddington in particular to win the race for the ball. It nearly worked but several times, Adam Forrest calmly cleared up at the back whilst Ewan Herriot’s role changed from first half enterprising, attacking full back to to one requiring a sharp eye being kept on the visitor’s speedsters.
Walters made a flying save from Eddington but the pattern of play was changing once more and Berwick finished in the ascendency. Graham missed a couple of chances and was just wide with a free kick after Ingram belly flopped on being fouled inside the ‘D’. The best chance of all befell Coultress. Bearing down on goal with only Robertson in sight, a shot was expected but he kept running giving time for Mark Allan to come across and get the ball to safety. It capped a good night for the 19 year old who scored for the Warriors in the previous game. He may have been the smallest man on the pitch but his firm tackling and intelligent distribution made him the visitors’ top player on the night.
The shared spoils….the third time Berwick have drawn so far this season…. mean that Stenhousemuir remain below Berwick in the league table.
Berwick Rangers: Walters, McDonald, Herriot, Forrest, Anderson, Ingram, Pattenden ( Crawford 63 ), Hogg, Watt, R.Graham, Coultress
Unused sub: Cockburn (GK)
Match report courtesy fo Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust