BERWICK RANGERS ..........................................1
BERWICK made a welcome return to action after their enforced lay-off because of the weather when they travelled through to face league leaders Stranraer on Saturday.
The game was one of the few to beat the weather in Scotland at the weekend, and after taking an early lead it looked as if they might hang on for a very welcome victory.
But with less than five minutes of normal time remaining Stranraer managed to snatch a late equaliser, and afterwards manager Jimmy Crease admitted his players were ‘gutted’ at letting two vital point slip through their fingers.
“It was very disappointing, there’s no getting away from that” said Crease.
“What really upset the players more than anything was the fact they knew it was avoidable.
“We had possession of the ball in their half of the field and lost it needlessly. They then broke upfield and scored.
“Paul McMullan missed an open goal a few minutes before they scored and that would have killed the game off in the dying stages. There were only five or six minutes left at that stage and if we had gone 2-0 up I don’t think there would have been any way back for Stranraer.
“On the other side of the coin, they are a big, powerful and athletic team who are leading the table, so to go there and get a draw is not a result to be sneezed at.
“I think any side who fancies their chances of winning the league has to beat Stranraer, because they are a good side.
“We are becoming something of the draw specialists in this league (that’s six in the last seven games) but we will keep battling on and hope that the victories start flowing again.”
Rangers, with leading scorer Darren Gribben unable to play because of a niggling injury which meant he was unable to train during the week, also started the match without influential midfielder Paul Currie.
“He missed the team bus and was late arriving at the ground,” said Crease.
“He didn’t arrive until 2.30pm, which is no use to me, because our team lines have to be in before then.
“I was not happy with him. It is an internal matter, but he will be disciplined.”
Rangers got off to a dream start after only two minutes when the home rearguard failed to deal with a cross and Alan Brazil bundled the ball home from only a few yards out.
Stranraer had the edge in the opening spell but Craig Malcolm, Armand One and Scott Agnew all missed chances.
The home side did find the net with 10 minutes remaining but the referee spotted an infringement and Agnew’s strike was chalked off.
McMullan should have put it beyond doubt in 83 minutes when Grant Gallagher gifted him the ball but he lost his footing as he tried to round the keeper and the ball rolled wide.
It proved costly because two minutes later Malcolm, who has now scored an amazing 15 goals in 19 games for Stranraer after joining them from Arbroath in the summer, waltzed round the defence and rounded keeper Mark Peat before slotting in the equaliser.
Berwick - M Peat, E Smith, S Thomson, A McLean, C McLeod, D Greenhill, S Notman, F McLaren, A Brazil (C O’Reilly 66), K Gordon, P McMullan (I Little 87).
“TUESDAY’S re-arranged home game against East Stirling was postponed for a second time because of the on-going weather.
The heavy snow had previously made Shielfield unplayable, and once it started to thaw it was obvious the surface would contain a lot of water.
Directors were at the ground on Monday morning for a further meeting with police and County Council officials regards the forthcoming cup tie against Celtic on January 9 and a decision was taken then to postpone the fixture following an inspection.
Rangers will now hope to get back to home action this weekend when Montrose are due to be the visitors on Saturday, but with further snow predicted for later in the week fans are asked to check before setting off for the match.