BERWICK manager Jimmy Crease was full of praise for his players after watching them turn in a fine performance against East Stirling at Shielfield on Saturday.
Rangers picked up their first league points of the season, producing a quality of football which at times was a joy to behold.
But from 3-0 up they let the ten-man visitors back into the game at 3-2 and Crease admitted later that was something which was a cause for concern.
He criticised referee Andrew Dallas for awarding Shire ‘a very soft penalty’ which gave John Coughlin’s men a foothold in the game.
“In those circumstances I am looking at the final scoreline and thinking it should have been 4-1 and not 4-2,” he said.
“But after a performance like that I cannot be critical of the players. At times we played some really good football and we thoroughly deserved the victory.
“The bench was also strong, and when you are able to bring on players like Darren Gribben and Fraser Mclaren, who scored twice, it shows the strength in depth we have at the moment.
“I was a little bit concerned at half-time because we had played well and created a lot of chances, but we only went in 1-0 up, and that was something I talked about with the players.
“At 3-0 up we should have had the game won, but then the referee gave a very soft penalty decision against us.
“It might have turned the game on its head, because despite being down to ten men East Stirling came back to 3-2, but thankfully Fraser McLaren got his second of the game right at the end.”
After winning four out of five league and cup matches at the start of the season Crease admits to being ‘pleased’ with the form of his team.
“It’s early days and there is a long way to go,” he said.
“All we are looking at now is the next game - we are away to Stranraer on Saturday and we know from past experience that Stair Park is always a difficult place to go.”
Striker Damon Gray, who has made a good start to the season scoring four goals, including one on Saturday against East Stirling, said: “I’m happy with the way things are going at the moment, but this is probably the strongest squad we have had here in the time I have been associated with the club so competition for places is tough.
“You have to play well to keep your place. I’m scoring goals at the moment, so hopefully that will keep me in the picture, but I’m well aware that if I have a couple of poor games the situation might change.
“Football is all about confidence, and that comes from winning games. At the moment we have won four out of five so there is plenty of confidence within the team. All the players are working really hard for each other and I think that is showing in our performances out on the pitch.”
After Saturday’s game at Stranraer, Berwick will travel to Easter Road to take on Hibernian in the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm kick-off).
“It will be a big night for the players, playing on a stage like that,” said Gray.
“We want to go out and enjoy it, but equally we are aware that the cup is a one off, the league is the important thing for us, so we cannot afford to let ourselves get too carried away with all the hype that a cup tie like this always brings.”
Meanwhile, in the quarter-final draw for the Ramsdens Challenge Cup, Berwick have been drawn at home against Livingston. The tie will be played at Shielfield on Sunday, September 4.
Livi are in good form at the moment and are likely to prove very difficult opposition.
And there is of course a strong local connection as former Berwick chairman Robert Wilson is now a director of the Almondvale outfit.