Lavery leaves it late with Rangers’ leveller

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BERWICK RANGERS 1, STIRLING ALBION 1

Darren Lavery scored a dramatic late equaliser as Berwick came from behind to earn a point in their clash with Stirling Albion at Shielfield.

David Weatherston had fired the third placed visitors in front after 59 minutes, but Lavery pounced for the leveller after 88, slamming in a loose ball after Damien Gielty headed down a Lee Currie chip down to him at the back post.

The Stirling team bus had broken down on the way to the game and players arrived just an hour before kick-off.

Albion asked for the start to be delayed, but referee Alan Newlands said the game would go ahead on schedule.

And there was a further set-back for the visitors when Dale Fulton injured his groin in warm-up and had to be replaced by Mark Ferry.

After winning their last two league games, Berwick naturally fielded an unchanged side.

There was nothing between the sides in the opening 20 minutes, although Berwick keeper Paul Grant had to make a low save from Ferry after an overlap by Phil Johnston down the right and a cross into the box.

Grant also had to tip over a cross from David Weatherston, whilst at the other end Darren Lavery headed wide from.a Kenny O’Brien cross on the left.

O’Brien also crossed for Steven Notman to shoot in a crowded goalmouth, only to see his effort cleared off the line.

In a half of few scoring opportunities Scott Dalziel made a break into the Stirling penalty area but was unable to cut the ball back.

Grant saved well from a Weatherston free kick just before half-time, but at the break it was 0-0.

With leaders East Stirling losing 0-3 at home at half-time (1-4 at the end), both sides knew that a victory could potentially take them to the top of the table.

Stirling applied the early pressure in the second half and Jordan White volleyed over the top following a cross from the right.

Johnston made a quick break down the right and cut the ball back to Ferry, but his first time shot was high.

As Stirling turned the screw, Grant flapped at a high ball under pressure, but Neil Janczyk forced David Crawford into the first meaningful save of the afternoon with a half volley from inside the box after Dalziel headed the ball down to him.

The deadlock was broken when Weatherston rifled a low angled shot into the net after stealing possession on the right and Ferry set up the assist.

Berwick made changes and the introduction of fresh legs gave Rangers a new impetus in the final 20 minutes.

They had a good chance of equalising after 84 minutes when in a build-up through the middle, Devon Jacobs flicked the ball through for Notman whose shot on the turn was turned around by Crawford at the foot of his left post.

Time looked to be running out, but with just two minutes remaining Lavery pounced with his fifth goal of the season to earn a share of the spoils.

Berwick - Grant, Jacobs, Hoskins, Dunlop, Tulloch, Janczyk (Gielty 60), Currie, Notman, Dalziel (Gray 68), Lavery, O’Brien (Carse 76).

Subs - Gielty, Morris, Carse, Gray, Tuffail

Bookings: Jacobs 79 foul;

Stirling Albion - Crawford, McGeachie (Ashe 46), Forsyth, Ferry,, Bishop, Smith, Johnston, Weir, White, Weatherston, Day.

Subs -Robertson, McAnespie, Coyne, Cunningham, Clark, Ashe.

Bookings: Weir 37 foul; Forsyth 63 dissent; White 77 foul;

Referee - Alan Newlands.

Attendance - 491.