Gribben brace sinks Shire as unbeaten run continues

Darren Gribben celebrates his goal for Berwick Rangers with Paul Currie in their fixture against East Sterling

Darren Gribben celebrates his goal for Berwick Rangers with Paul Currie in their fixture against East Sterling

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Lee Currie of Berwick Rangers in their match against Easr Sterling

Lee Currie of Berwick Rangers in their match against Easr Sterling

Goals: Gribben 12, 79; McLean 46

by Keith Hamblin

at Shielfield Park

BERWICK made it two wins in four days and stretched their unbeaten run to six, when they beat East Stirling at Shielfield on Tuesday.

The victory, courtesy of two goals from leading striker Darren Gribben and one from Andy McLean, lifted Rangers back into contention in the race for the end- of-season play-offs.

But afterwards manager Jimmy Crease said it was important his players maintained their levels of concentration and tried to keep the momentum going, as this week coming they face two difficult matches away to league leaders Arbroath on Saturday and home to Albion Rovers on Tuesday.

In truth this was probably as comfortable a victory as Berwick have recorded all season, for Shire, despite having their fair share of the ball, seldom looked like breaching a home rearguard which stood solid throughout.

In fact, it took them 50 minutes to register their first shot at goal, an effort pulled wide of the upright by Paul Weaver, and it was the best part of an hour before Berwick goalkeeper Mark Peat had a meaningful save to make, safely collecting a shot from Stephen McGuire under his bar.

By that stage Rangers were already 2-0 up and cruising.

Despite the wet and blustery conditions, they managed to knock the ball around well at times and it was evident from an early stage that the return of Paul Currie and David Greenhill from suspension, coupled with the inclusion of new signing Lee Currie in midfield, added some bite to their play.

And the G-Force pairing up front of Darren Gribben and Damon Gray also proved to be a handful for the opposition, so much so in fact that it was the pair who combined for the opening goal after 12 minutes, Gray cutting in from the right and squaring the ball to his strike partner who confidently rammed it into the net from 12 yards out.

Berwick continued to press for the rest of the first half and Gribben shot over from distance, while Lee Currie fired in a snap shot and McLean headed over from a Stuart Callaghan free kick.

Rangers then made the perfect start to the second half when another Callaghan free kick was fumbled by goalkeeper Michael Andrews and McLean, who was only two yards out, had the simplest of tasks of tapping the ball into the empty net.

For a spell East Stirling threatened to get back into the game, but any danger was snuffed out by the back four of McLean, Jamie Ewart, Chris McLeod and Callaghan.

And when Gribben stroked home the ball for the third, and his 16th of the season, after 79 minutes, it was game over.

Rangers worked the ball down the left and when it was played into the centre the hit-man somewhat nonchalantly tucked it away in the bottom corner from ten yards out.

This was a welcome win for Berwick, but they know that tougher tasks lie ahead over the coming weeks.

For Saturday’s trip to Gayfield midfielder John Grant returns after suspension, but Stevie Notman, who has been suffering from low blood pressure and who missed Tuesday’s encounter, begins a two-match ban.

Berwick - Peat 6, McLean 7, Callaghan 7, Ewart 8, McLeod 8, L Currie 8, Greenhill 7 (Ponton 71), P Currie 7, Gribben 8 (Brazil 80), Gray 7, Gordon 7 (Little 71).

East Stirling - Andrews, Donaldson, Dunn (Ure 80), Hay (Beveridge 74), Neil, Tully, Cawley, Weaver, Maguire (Team 71), Grant, Johnson.

Referee - Bobby Madden.

Crowd - 266