Berwick Rangers 1
East Stirling 1
by Keith Hamblin
at Shielfield Park
BERWICK gained a point with a last gasp equaliser against East Stirling at Shielfield on Saturday.
But against a team currently sitting second from bottom of the table this was a game Rangers could and should have won.
For they had four other clear-cut chances to win the match, and also had a penalty awarded to them, only to have the decision over-ruled by a linesman.
At the end of the day it felt more like two points dropped rather than a point won, and afterwards manager Jimmy Crease admitted the result now placed a lot more emphasis on the back to back games against Stranraer this week, which he described as ‘massive’ in their hunt for an end of season play-off place.
Substitute Alan Brazil was the man who claimed Berwick’s 89th minute leveller, getting the final touch in what can only be described as a goalmouth scramble following a Stuart Callaghan corner.
But Rangers could and probably should have been out of sight by this stage, for earlier in the match striker Damon Gray was guilty of a hat-trick of misses, whilst David Greenhill also squandered a gilt-edged chance just before the interval.
“After two good wins against Queen’s Park and Elgin this was an opportunity for us to cap a fantastic week,” said Crease, “but we blew it because we couldn’t get the ball in the net.
“We also conceded a very soft goal early on when we gave the ball away too easily and then there was the penalty decision, which even now I find difficult to understand.”
That came midway through the first half when Gray rushed through on the right side of the area where he was fouled.
Referee Crawford Allan immediately pointed to the spot, but then changed his mind after the terrace-side linesman flagged and said the contact was outside the box.
“The referee was only a few yards away,” said Crease, “how can he allow himself to be over-ruled by a linesman who was further away than what he was?”
Rangers fell behind after only five minutes when Greenhill lost the ball just 35 yards out. Charlie Grant played the ball through to John Neil and the number nine picked his spot, beating Ian McCaldon to his right.
Berwick then created a number of chances. First of all Andy McLean had a glancing flick cleared off the line by Derek Ure. Gray was through on goal but pulled his shot wide, and a minute later he missed an even better chance when a long clearance from McCaldon was neatly played through for him by Darren Gribben, but he somehow lifted his shot over the top when he should at least have hit the target.
Shire had their moments and too and McCaldon was forced into making a good save from Kevin Cawley, but right on half-time Rangers were presented with another great chance when found himself with just the keeper to beat but somehow shot into the side netting.
Early in the second half Gray again found himself through, this time from a long Callaghan clearance, but he didn’t get any power in his shot and Michael Andrews collected easily.
McCaldon made another good save from a Paul Hay header and when Gribben couldn’t find a way through to goal after being set up by Stevie Notman it looked as if it was going to be one of those days for Rangers.
Brazil’s scrambled effort salvaged a point, but in reality it should have been more.
“The extra points would have been very welcome,” admitted Crease afterwards,.
Berwick: McCaldon 7, Notman 8, Callaghan 6, McLean 7, Ewart 6, L Currie 6, Greenhill 6 (McLeod 80), P Currie 6, Gribben 7, Gray 5 (Brazil 67), Grant 6 (Gordon 80).
East Stirling: Andrews, Hay, Ure, Walker (Richardson 50), Beveridge, Tully (Scott 90), Cawley (Maguire 77), Grant, Neil, Dunn, Johnston.
Referee: Crawford Allan