Berwick Rangers 1-2 Arbroath

Berwick Rangers substitute Ben Miller goes on the attack. Picture: Zoltan Simonffy
Berwick Rangers substitute Ben Miller goes on the attack. Picture: Zoltan Simonffy

Berwick were left reflecting on what might have been after Arbroath staged a second half fightback to take all three points in the league opener at Shielfield on Saturday.

Paul Willis gave Berwick a 1-0 half-time lead with an early strike, but Arbroath hit back after the break with goals by Kevin Buchan and Paul McManus seeing the Smokies turn things around.

Berwick Rangers v Arbroath in Shelfield Park

Berwick Rangers v Arbroath in Shelfield Park

Berwick were by far the better side in the first half and they opened the scoring after six minutes when goalkeeper David Crawford made a poor clearance from a pass-back, playing the ball directly into the path of Willis, who fired the return into the bottom corner from inside the box.

Minutes later Scott Maxwell fired in a first time shot which was comfortably collected by Crawford.

Berwick were forced to replace striker Darren Lavery, who limped off after 20 minutes, with Andy Russell.

Rangers created several openings down the right, forcing the visitors into an early first half change by replacing their left back. Paul Gold, Devon Jacobs and Willis found a lot of joy down Rangers’ right, but there was no one to meet the final ball into the box.

Berwick Rangers v Arbroath in Shelfield Park

Berwick Rangers v Arbroath in Shelfield Park

After 31 minutes Scott Dalziel was unlucky when he saw a shot from the right rebound off the face of the crossbar.

And two minutes later he headed the ball into the net only to see referee Gavin Ross rule the effort out for a push on a defender.

Arbroath made a substitution at the start of the second half, but it was Berwick were made the better start, Dalziel seeing another header cleared off the line from a corner.

But Arbroath looked rejuvenated after the break and when they stepped up a gear Adam Hunter hit a drive from 30 yards out which Billy Bald palmed away from a corner at full stretch. But after making another save at point blank range from the set piece, substitute Buchan slammed the loose ball into the net from close range for the equaliser after 52 minutes.

Willis had a great opportunity to restore Berwick’s advantage when he burst through after 59 minutes, but Crawford redeemed his earlier mistake with a good save when one-on-one.

Arbroath went straight upfield and within 60 seconds McManus put the visitors in front when a free kick from 25 yards out hit the underside of the bar and the Smokies’ front man reacted quickest and headed in the rebound from inside the six yard box.

Scott Maxwell shot over for Berwick, but in general they were second best in the second half and were left to rue their missed chances earlier in the game.

Berwick: Bald 7, Jacobs 6 (Horribine 87), Hoskins 6, Fairbairn 6, Tulloch 6, Notman 7, Willis 6, Gold 6 (Miller 76), Maxwell 6, Dalziel 7, Lavery 4, (Russell 20) 5.

Arbroath: Crawford 6, Travis 6, E Murray (T) 3 Buchan 20) 6, Little 5 (Stewart 46) 6, Fisher 7, Nicoll 7, Linn 6, Whatley 6, McManus 7, (S Murray 86), Hunter 7, McBride 6.

Referee: Gavin Ross

Attendance: 590