MONTROSE 1, BERWICK RANGERS 1
Berwick earned a welcome, if some might say unconvincing point, when they held Montrose to a 1-1 draw at Links Park on Saturday.
Rangers twice saw the woodwork come to their rescue as the Gable Endies, after two opening defeats, went in search of their first league victory of the season.
Berwick, on the other hand, were hoping to build on their 4-0 home win over Queen’s Park in the previous game. And when Darren Lavery headed them in front in the second half it looked as if they might go on and achieve back to back victories, which would have been a boost ahead of their Ramsdens Cup match at Ibrox against Rangers on Tuesday.
But Montrose looked the more dangerous side throughout and they deservedly picked up their first point of the campaign when Paul Watson rose unchallenged to head home an equaliser.
With Douglie Brydon still unavailable and Neil Janczyk and Stephen Tulloch both out injured, new signing Michael Dunlop was left on the bench as Berwick, perhaps not unexpectedly, started with the same 11 who beat Queen’s Park at Shielfield a week earlier.
Montrose had the better of the opening exchanges, with Paul Watson, Garry Wood and Ross McCord all getting in early shots.
Dean Hoskins, again playing in central defence, was again the key figure as Rangers tried to gain a foothold,but they had to wait until the 17th minute before creating a chance when a good run and cross from Josh Morris saw Lavery clip the post with a header.
A rash of fouls and free kicks, which saw Jonny Fairbairn pick up a booking, was followed by a shot from Lee Currie from outside the box which home keeper Stuart McKenzie parried onto the head of Morris, the keeper collecting at the second attempt.
But Montrose started to turn the screw in the build up to half time and the home side were unlucky when Terry Masson saw a shot from outside the box beat Paul Grant only to strike a post.
Grant then had to make two good saves from shots by McCord and Watson as the Borderers came under increasing pressure, but at the break it remained 0-0.
In the second half Grant made another save from Alan Campbell, whilst both Stevie Notman and Currie followed Fairbairn into referee David Somer’s book as the foul count continued to grow.
Berwick introduced Ross Gray as a substitute as manager Ian Little tried to shake things up, and within a few minutes Rangers had taken a surprise lead through Lavery, who headed home from a Currie corner after 68 minutes.
But Montrose were not to be denied and they scored a deserved equaliser when Paul Watson finished off a good move, heading home unchallenged after 84 minutes following a cross by substitute Lloyd Young.
Berwick tried to rally towards the end with Notman and Kenny O’Brien both getting in shots, but they were hanging on at the end as the homesters hit the bar in the very last minute through Steven McInally and also shot over the top right on the final whistle through Campbell.
Montrose: McKenzie, McInally, Crawford, Campbell, McIntosh, Masson (Sturrock 73), Webster (Rae 58), McCord, Watson, Wood, Johnstone (Young 82).
Berwick: Grant, Jacobs, Fairbairn, Hoskins, Gielty, O’Brien, Currie, Notman, Morris (Gray 63), Dalziel, Lavery (Ronald 82).
Referee: David Somers.