Berwick Rangers produced one of their best performances this season, running out easy winners over East Stirlingshire, and leapfrogging them in the process.
Andy Russell opened the scoring after just five minutes, converting after some free-flowing football. Kyle Wilkie doubled the lead with a clever looping half-volley, before Blair Henderson pounced on a goalkeeping error to make it three. Lee Currie rounded off the victory late on, before Connor Greene was shown red for a shocking challenge on Ross Gray.
Berwick manager Colin Cameron opted to change the side that produced a drab draw the weekend previous, with Euan Bauld, Stephen Tulloch, David Gold and the boss himself all returning to the starting line-up.
East Stirlingshire opted to change things too after a disappointing defeat to Montrose, with Steven Brisbane and Max Wright being introduced.
The Gers started with intent and Henderson looked to have played Russell through early on, but the striker was ruled to be offside. The Gers continued their early pressure to open the scoring in the fifth minute however, David Gold slotting through Russell to hammer into the top left of Richie Barnard’s net.
Shire reacted well, with Ross Gilmour finding Kevin Nisbet with a good cross. Unfortunately for the home side, Nisbet wouldn’t get the ball under control, and the chance was wasted.
Berwick’s superior quality would continue to show tough, with Cameron’s 25-yard effort glancing wide of Barnard’s right post, before Gold struck just over the bar.
In a carbon copy of Shire’s first chance, Gilmour then picked out Wright, but again Wright failed to control and Berwick cleared the danger.
Berwick continued to assert themselves with fine passing football, but struggled to get the ball past a steely Shire defence, with Maxwell, Wilkie and Cameron all seeing shots blocked.
Shire’s best chance of the game came when the impressive Gilmour broke down the left to pick out Nisbet once more. This time Nisbet would waste no time attempting to get the ball under control – sending a thunderous volley crashing off Michael Andrews’ crossbar, the ball bouncing luckily on to the stopper’s line. David McKenna managed to reach the ball first, but Maxwell was positioned well to block.
Berwick seemed undeterred from the threat, and Gold would respond by hitting the woodwork himself, cutting in from the left flank but seeing his strike bounce away off the left post.
Both Berwick and Shire were forced into first-half substitutions after picking up knocks, Bauld being replaced by Devon Jacobs and Townsley subbed for David Bates.
The final chance of the half fell to Berwick when David Gold’s impressive ball found Henderson, but Barnard got down well to save with his legs.
Shire looked improved in the early staged of second half but failed to create any real chances. The Gers continued to threaten and Barnard was forced into action when Currie rifled in a free-kick from range.
Quick thinking from Scott Maxwell and Kyle Wilkie would see the ‘Gers double their lead, Maxwell’s throw finding Wilkie who showed great technique to smash a looping half-volley into the top right corner.
And five minutes later, the ‘Gers would make it 3-0. Lee Currie drove in an effort from 20 yards, and when Barnard parried, Henerson was alert to take full advantage of the rebound, showing a lethal touch Berwick have perhaps lacked this season.
Shire tried to force their way back into the game, but Neil McCabe’s strike from the edge of the area was denied by a brave block by Henderson. Substitute Bates then played a good ball through to McKenna, but again the Shire man failed to control and Andrews was allowed to sweep up the danger.
Russell then played a fantastic ball into Henderson who loked certain to double his goal tally – only to be denied by a classy reaction-save by Barnard, who tipped the header over the bar.
Gold continued to threaten down Berwick’s left, and he found Henderson with a cross, the striker nodding down into the path of Russell, but the striker’s slight hesitation allowed Greene to get back in and block.
The Gers got their fourth when substitute Ross Gray made a clever run in behind before playing to Gold, only for Currie to disposess him and smash a powerful effort past Barnard.
It wasn’t all positives for Berwick however. With Berwick launching a counter attack late on in search of a fifth, Greene sythed down Gray in a shocking challenge – somewhat reminiscent of the tackle which kept him out of action for the first four months of this season. Both sides would finish with ten, Greene receiving his marching orders for the challenge, and Gray being forced to leave the pitch for further treatment.
Berwick Rangers: Andrews, Bauld (Jacobs 40), Fairbairn, Tulloch, Maxwell (Gray 72), Cameron (Lavery 69), Wilkie, L Currie, Gold, Henderson, Russell. Subs not used: Young, Miller, Dillon, Bleakley (GK).