BERWICK manager, Jimmy Crease, who has agreed to stay on in the role next season, had a stern warning for his players after watching them slip to a disappointing 1-0 home reverse at the hands of Montrose on Saturday.
“Shape up or ship out,” was the message, following the defeat which effectively ended their play-off hopes.
“I think I exerted more energy in the dug-out than some of them did on the pitch today,” he said afterwards.
“In the dressingroom I told then bluntly. I have a job to do here next year, some of them will not if they don’t show me they want to stay in the remaining weeks of the season.
“I have my priority of list of players I would like to keep. Some will definitely be going, but one or two I haven’t made my mind up on yet. However, they will have to show a lot more than they did today if they want to stay.
“What I would say is that there will be big changes next season, no question about that, because at the moment we haven’t got the stamina to last the course.”
Berwick, following their defeat at Stranraer the previous week, still had an outside chance of making the top four at the end of the season, but knew that a win over Montrose was a must.
However, this turned into a typical end of season affair with neither side looking as if they had the will, the desire or even the ability to claim all three points.
On balance, Berwick were probably the better of two poor sides. They created more chances than the visitors, but with Darren Gribben effectively playing as the lone striker up front, and more often than not being forced to go wide left to turn provider, scoring opportunities were at a premium.
Gribben did find himself through after only four minutes but lifted the ball over the top.
Kevin Gordon had the ball in the net but was clearly offside and then Paul Currie was unlucky when he saw a header from a David Greenhill corner come back off the top of a post.
Andy McLean also went close with a header from a Stuart Callaghan corner, whilst at the other end Ross McCord was the man causing most problems for the home defence.
The only time they had a serious effort on goal however, in the first half was when central defender Gordon Pope had a header from a corner which he directed straight at Ian McCaldon.
Early in the second half Douglas Cameron fired over from distance, but Berwick, struggled to get in a shot as they found themselves crowded out when they were about to pull the trigger.
In what was at times a scrappy game, Berwick’s usual short passing game deserted them, and it became increasingly likely that a single goal would settle it.
And so it proved with Terry Masson taking advantage of a missed defensive header by Jamie Ewart in the 81st minute. As the ball landed at his feet 20 yards out he struck it first time to McCaldon’s left, giving the home keeper no chance.
Right at the end Rangers again had the ball in the net, but again players were clearly offside.
Overall, this was a very disappointing performance from Rangers and it wasperhaps understandable that Crease should be so brutally honbest in his assessment afterwards.
Berwick - McCaldon 7, Notman 5, Callaghan 7, McLean 6, Ewart 6, McLeod 6, Greenhill 5 (Brazil 77), P Currie 6, Gribben 7, Gordon 5 (Gray 61), L Currie 6.
Montrose - Gonzalez, Crighton, Sinclair, Campbell (Hegarty 74), Pope, Cameron, McCord, Crawford, Nicol (Pierce 77), Masson, Thomson.
Referee - Thomas Robertson
Crowd - 353