Report: The Spartans 1-0 Berwick Rangers

A late header from substitute Cameron Dawson saw Berwick fall to defeat against The Spartans FC in their first away match of the 2020/21 campaign.

Manager Ian Little named an unchanged side from the opening day victory against Vale of Leithen at Shielfield Park on Saturday, with Calum Smith and Lewis Allan up top and a midfield diamond ahead of the back four.

Spartans, meanwhile, fielded two ex-‘Gers players in striker Aaron Murrell and winger Scott Maxwell, with midfielder Sam Jones formerly of the club’s U20 set-up.

The hosts’ live stream, which was kindly provided to fans free of charge, acted much like a metaphor for the game itself – disjointed and low quality in the first half but much improved in the second period.

It was the home side who arguably edged the first 45 minutes though, with goalkeeper Dougie Horne – who kept a clean sheet on his ‘Gers debut at the weekend – thwarting Murrell from close range on the half hour mark, only for the striker to see the offside flag raised.

The best chance for Berwick, given the quality Jordan Sinclair showed from 30 yards out on Saturday, came when the midfielder was standing over another free-kick – only this time his effort from 20 yards out was blocked by the wall.

As time wound down towards the break, Horne was called into action once again, producing an excellent double save – firstly from Jones’ effort and then from Murrell on the rebound.

With streaming issues resolved, Berwick upped the tempo and created more chances in the second half, with diminutive midfielder Jack Wright at the heart of most of the output.

The home side felt aggrieved when loud calls for a penalty were waved away by the referee and then, in a 15-minute spell from the hour mark, the ‘Gers should have made their pressure count to take the lead.

Wright saw himself through on goal only to be denied by an excellent recovering challenge, while just moments later, a deep cross was taken just off his head at the far post. 

Euan Smith then laid in namesake Calum but his fierce effort was well-saved by the body of the Edinburgh side’s trialist goalkeeper, before the striker had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be ruled out after being adjudged to have pushed the defender in the back.

The final chance in the spell and, in truth, for the ‘Gers in the match fell to Allan who, after being played through by Wright, did well to check back on his right foot, only to see his tame shot gathered comfortably by the keeper.

As the clock wound down and with a draw looking the likely – and probably the fairest outcome on the balance of the game – Spartans netted with just one minute of normal time remaining.

As they mounted an attack down the right-hand side, Jo Purves failed to clear with his head and then found himself outnumbered, with substitute Scott McCrory-Irving driving a cross from the byline and finding Dawson, who headed in from a yard out.

The goal, and subsequent result, appeared typical of many away showings last season in that the team competed well in tight encounters, but ended up on the wrong side of the result. However, the ‘Gers have the perfect opportunity to put that right quickly when they head to face Caledonian Braves on Saturday.

Pics: The Spartans FC.