Wee Gers let victory slip as late goals earn Binos a point

Recent signing Aaron Murrell was on target for Berwick
Recent signing Aaron Murrell was on target for Berwick

STIRLING ALBION 2

BERWICK RANGERS 2

Berwick’s inability to hold onto a match-winning lead was again emphasised when they allowed Stirling to score two late goals and snatch a draw at Forthbank on Saturday.

Lee Hamilton and recent signing Aaron Murrell had fired Rangers into a deserved 2-0 half-time lead, and following on from their 4-1 home win over Annan a week earlier, it looked as if they were going to go on and record their first back-to-back victories of the season.

But disaster struck when goals from a trialist and Sean Dickson after 86 and 88 minutes meant they let another two vital points slip from their grasp in the closing stages.

The result means Berwick remain in seventh place in the table, six points ahead of bottom club Cowdenbeath, who have two games in hand.

With three players (Brian Martin, Jordyn Sheerin and Sam Perez) all leaving in midweek, and Stevie Notman, Kevin McKinlay and skipper Jonny Fairbairn all still unavailable, manager John Coughlin was restricted in his selection.

But Berwick got off to a good start, and after goalkeeper Devlin Mackay made a good save to deny ex-Rangers striker Blair Henderson, Hamilton put the visitors ahead after only six minutes, prodding home from a Darren Lavery corner.

Steven Thomson, Gary Phillips (twice) and Greg Rutherford (twice, with one shot being saved), all went close as Berwick threatened to run riot.

Sean Dickson shot over at the other end to make sure complacency didn’t sink in, but in 34 minutes Couglin’s side gave themselves the breathing space they were looking for when recent signing Murrell found the bottom corner of the net after taking a pass from Euan Spark.

Stirling didn’t have their problems to seek, being forced into making two first-half substitutions because of injury, and at half time they trailed the Borderers, who were deserving of their two-goal lead.

By comparison, the second half got off to a slower start, with a series of corners at both ends and the closest either team got was when a Berwick corner was punched off the line by home goalkeeper Smith.

With an hour gone, Lavery was unlucky when he saw a close-range shot come back off the crossbar following another corner, while Rutherford twisted on the edge of the box, but pulled his shot wide.

At the other end, Stirling substitute Connor McLaren had an effort saved by Mackay, while Dickson shot over before Rutherford again shot wide as Berwick launched a fast counter-attack.

But Rangers were rocked and saw their good work undone when Stirling scored two late goals in two minutes to level it up at 2-2.

First of all the Albion trialist netted from close range on 86 minutes after being set up by Darren Smith.

Then, after Michael McKenna forced home keeper Smith into making a good save, Dickson found the net in 88 minutes with a shot from outside the box.

It might have been worse had it not been from a last minute goal-line clearance by Spark to deny Henderson a potential winner.

Stirling: Smith, Smith, McMillan (Wright 9), Forsyth, McGeachie, Caddis (Trialist 39), McCue (McLaren 64), Dickson, Quigley, Smith, Henderson.

Berwick: Mackay, Spark, Scullion, Hamilton, Phillips, Orru (Kessels 81), McKenna, Lavery, Thomson, Rutherford, Murrell (Bauld 75).

Referee: David Dickinson.

Attendance: 515.