BERWICK Rangers will try to build on their success at Stranraer this weekend when they travel to take on second from bottom Montrose.
Bearing in mind the fact that Rangers now find themselves in sixth place in the Third Division, and with games starting to run out, Saturday’s fixture is one the Shielfielders must win to stay in the promotion race. Manager Ian Little believes a top-four finish, and with it a place in the play-offs, is still achievable.
However, they go to Links Park without central defender Stephen Tulloch, who has returned to parent club Forfar Athletic after his one-month loan spell expired on March 3.
Tulloch has turned in a few decent performances at centre-back, where he has partnered Chris Townsley, and a statement from the club this week said that in an ideal world they would have liked to extend the deal, but Forfar have injury worries of their own and need him back at Station Park.
Berwick’s roller-coaster season took another twist last weekend when they beat promotion-chasing Stranraer at Stair Park. It was only Berwick’s second victory in 13 games – the other was away against league leaders Alloa – and manager Little is hoping this is a result which will help them kick-start their season again, enabling them to make a late push for the play-offs.
“We have thrown away a lot of points recently,” he said, “and I know that’s not the sort of form to land us a top-four finish. But the bottom line is we are ten points off the pace with nine games to play, so it is do-able.
“Obviously we need to be a lot more consistent than we have done in recent games, but the win at Stranraer is the kind of result which will give the players a lot of confidence and hopefully we can build on that.
“I had hoped that we would kick on after the win at Alloa a few weeks ago, but it just didn’t happen, and I have to admit some of the performances and results were frustrating, particularly the home defeats against East Stirling and Peterhead.
“They were two teams below us in the table and six points from those match would have put us right back in the frame. But we introduced one or two new players and made a few changes to the team.
“I told my players before the game at Stranraer that to have the rub of the green you must work for it and they did just that.
“We changed things around a little bit, we scored at the right time and it was good to see different names on the scoresheet.
“Stuart Noble was long overdue one and John Ferguson, who did particularly well when he came on as a late substitute, grabbed his first in senior football.
“The young defenders also did a fine job and held on during a sticky patch when Stranraer put us under strong pressure.
“Obviously we conceded again, which is a recurring problem and I will be sitting down with my assistant Robbie Horn to see what we can do about it.”
Ferguson was naturally delighted to see the team get back to winning ways and particularly pleased to get his first goal in a Berwick jersey.
“I had to bide my time,” he said, “but I knew that if I got my chance I would be able to take it.”
Ferguson also praised the efforts of the defenders and the goalkeeper for their part in the victory.
“We were under a bit of pressure towards the end but they stood up well to it,” he said.