Featuring an explosive start and finish, this match extended Berwick’s unbeaten run to five games but they had to thank a late missed penalty for making it four on the trot without conceding a goal.
Blair Henderson probably couldn’t believe his luck when, with less than thirty seconds played, what appeared to be a skewed shot from Michael McKenna became his ‘assist’ to putting Rangers in front. That was to be the end of the scoring despite the home side going on to dominate the opening twenty five minutes or so, putting together a number of attacks which looked capable of producing further scores.
Darren Lavery shovelled the ball the wrong side of goal after Callum Crane’s surge upfield following an interception in the middle of the park. Brian Martin pumped the ball to Crane. Confidently, the Hibs’ loan player decided to go for it himself, neatly cutting inside before his shot finished just outside the post. A classy four man build up led to Lavery tapping the ball back to Henderson but he lifted it too high.
Next, Lavery set himself up for a crack with a nifty piece of footwork, keeper Chris Smith having to go down to make sure of holding his shot.
The visiting fans had to wait half an hour to see their team seriously threaten for the first time. David Verlaque was through but Kevin Walker’s positioning was spot on and he saved with his foot. Craig Beattie got away down the left but Steven Doris was so well shepherded by Martin that he could only watch the cross fly by. In first half stoppage time, Doris did get a hit when the ball came back out to him following a scramble inside the box but he was left frustrated by his miss.
As the second half got underway, Stirling continued to look a very ordinary team. Again, Berwick created chances. McKenna and Finn Graham for Ewan McNeil and another for the same player by Lavery. Smith was almost stranded when an exchange of passes between Stevie Notman and McKenna paved the way for Lavery but he was unable to make the most of the goalkeeper’s difficulties. In this instance, Lavery was onside but in numerous others, he was flagged for offside. Whether it was the Albion offside trap working very well or the Berwick player failing to read the game, this would seem to be something that needs working on in training.
Crane robbed Ross McGeachie and ran on to send a curling ball just a fraction over the crossbar. Graham also sent a long shot over the top. Those attending ‘Ladies Day’ chose Finn as their home man of the match but Crane was also a strong candidate for the award.
Stirling’s play pepped up with the arrival of sub Moses Olanrewaju with just under twenty minutes remaining. Jonny Fairbairn, well aware of Moses’ ability having played against him in a Development League game in January, stopped him in his tracks before he could do anything serious when the ball was played over to him by the far post.
Walker twice tipped headers over the bar as the corner count and that for free kicks began to swing Stirling’s way, referee David Lowe seemingly having reversed his earlier policy of leniency towards robust tackles.
Smith was out of his goal upfield in an attempt to boost his side’s prospects of claiming a late equaliser when a header from ex-Celtic man Beattie was handled on the line by Martin. It was a straight red. Stirling now seemed set to get that goal until Sean Dickson blasted the spot kick over the bar.
In all the commotion, some tempers were becoming frayed and Rangers replaced McKenna, who earlier picked up his third caution in as many games, with Jordan McGregor, just ahead of the final whistle.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, McNeil, Crane, Notman, Wilson, Fairbairn, F.Graham, McKenna (McGregor 90+3), Henderson, Lavery, Martin
Report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.