At the previous evening’s talk-in, John Coughlin identified relegated Forfar as strong contenders for this season’s SPFL 2 title. There was much about their play to back up the view of the Berwick manager. Yet as the soaking wet players trooped off at the end of the game, Forfar’s were probably giving a sigh of relief that they had held on to take all three points to maintain their 100% winning start to the league campaign. Their two goals were markedly different; the first worthy of winning a match in its own right, the second a complete fluke.
Berwick’s starting line up showed only one change from that which kicked off against Annan the previous week. Robert Wilson replaced suspended captain Jonny Fairbairn. Rangers suffered more disciplinary woes with Michael McKenna dismissed three minutes from time.
It was McKenna who won Berwick’s first scoring opportunity after barely three minutes play when he was grounded by Thomas O’Brien. Ironically, Forfar’s no. 6 came off worse and needed attention from the physio. However, when Steven Thomson finally got to take the free kick, he seemed to be aiming for the stars!
At first, Rangers struggled both to make their passes count and to adjust to Forfar’s pace and the visitors struck in the 10th minute. Lee Hamilton was unable to secure the ball giving Lewis Milne the chance to whip a stunning shot from the left into the right side of Kevin Walker’s net.
Berwick’s Jordyn Sheerin showed his kicking power, taking a pass from Allan Walker to win a corner with a grass level shot and then shook the crossbar from 30 yards.
Allan Walker, McKenna , and Sheerin were involved in the lead up to Thomson’s overhead kick which travelled wide of Grant Adam’s far post. Following a Thomson corner, the ball again hit the Forfar woodwork.
When keeper Walker was pulled out of position, Berwick were saved by Brian Martin’s clearance off the line. Back downfield, Allan Walker couldn’t reach a fine Sheerin cross from the Main Stand touchline and Hamilton was unable to control a similar ball from Kevin McKinlay. But goal or no goal, if this was boxing, it was Forfar who would have been ahead on points at half time.
The second half opened with Adam palming away a Berwick corner. Stevie Notman soon popped into the box, Adam only holding his on target effort at the second attempt. Milne glanced a header wide before Forfar increased their lead around 54 minutes. Hamilton attempted to head the ball out of the penalty area but instead it hit Josh Peters and went into the net. Appreciating his good luck, Peters’ celebration was muted.
A minute later, the Loons should have been home if, given the conditions, not exactly dry. Former Berwick player Jim Lister had only the keeper to beat but his lob was too high. Allan Walker seemed set to open Berwick’s account after taking a great pass from the right by McKenna but right in front of goal, he contrived to send the ball outside the post.
McKenna picked up his first yellow for taking the legs from underneath O’Brien. Another foul led to Rangers’ goal, Sheerin, the victim, confidently sweeping home Allan Walker’s free kick not long after the hour. A resurgent Rangers began to play some lovely balls using space and width. Forfar responded with a double substitution bringing on Marc Scott and Allan Smith. Berwick were playing the more structured football but Forfar were still dangerous. David Cox let fly from 40 yards and Walker made a well judged save from Lister after he drove past two defenders.
With the rain now torrential, Thomson and Darren Lavery had shots blocked. McKenna’s second yellow appeared to be for a high tackle on Cox. His teammates did not allow his loss to inhibit them but they were unable to force an equaliser to round off what had been a very good match.
Berwick Rangers: K.Walker, Hamilton (Lavery 57), McKinlay, Notman, Martin, Wilson, Thomson, Stirling, A.Walker (Hogg 78), McKenna, Sheerin
Match report courtesy of Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust.