ANNAN ATHLETIC 3 BERWICK RANGERS 1
There was no Christmas present for Berwick and their band of followers at Galabank as Rangers went down to a third successive defeat against a team which, going into the game, had garnered only one more point than Berwick.
The match began with Jordyn Sheerin firing over the bar with a shot on the turn.
The 430 spectators then saw two goals within the space of three minutes.
Berwick defender Brian Martin couldn’t get high enough to head away Max Wright’s cross from the left and the ball fell to striker David McKenna, positioned between Martin and Kevin McKinlay, to volley Annan in front.
By the seventh minute, it was all square again. Greg Rutherford won a corner after latching on to a long ball from Pat Scullion.
Annan defenders were in a state of confusion when Steven Thomson’s kick came over and Scullion netted with a half volley from a few yards out.
Rangers had a let off on 16 minutes when Rabin Omar hit the bar after taking a pass from scorer McKenna and then another one eight minutes later.
This time, Darren Ramsey’s corner reached right back Callum Home but he wasted the chance by pushing the ball outside the far post with his right foot.
Around the half-hour point, believing the ball had gone out of play off a home man, Lee Hamilton picked it up to throw in but the linesman suggested it hadn’t crossed the line and Annan were given a free-kick for handball.
As Sean Brennan, in goal for Kevin Walker, came out to try to punch away the high ball, Peter Watson’s head beat him to it to make it 2-1.
It became 3-1 in the 39th minute. Nathan Flanagan’s dribble started the damage and Wright was ultimately rewarded for stopping the loose ball running out of play. His short shot at the near post should not have troubled Brennan but he failed to pick it up. The ball went through his legs and though Martin kicked it away, it travelled only as far as Omar who rifled it into the net.
Bizarrely, Annan ran out for the second half to the strains of Plastic Bertrand’s ‘Ca Plane Pour Moi’. Surely, this piece of Belgian rubbish wasn’t in any way a coded reference to their opponents performance?
In fact, Berwick shaded possession in the second half though on three occasions, Annan showed them how to pierce a defence. Early on, Wright slipped Ramsey through before Scullion’s tackle at the bye line ended the danger. In the 56th minute, David McKenna’s perfectly timed pass to the incoming Barry Cuddihy left him with only Brennan to beat but his shot to the left of goal was a poor ending to a slick piece of joined up thinking.
Close to the final whistle, a three man move opened up Rangers’ defence once more but Brennan easily held sub Ryan Sinnamon’s shot.
Despite seeing plenty of second half ball, Berwick manufactured only a trio of half decent chances. Darren Lavery figured in two of them.
In the 51st minute, his long run took Berwick deep into the home half. His pass went to Michael McKenna but a home player came behind him and got a foot to the ball, Berwick having to be satisfied with a corner.
Later, Sheerin got in the way of Lavery’s shot after Rutherford fooled defenders with some flashy footwork. Before this, Rangers had pulled off Thomson and Stevie Notman for the Hibs’ youngsters Ben Stirling and Sean Mackie. The latter tried hard to energise his team with some good touches and determined running, at one stage, flashing a powerful hit across goal after running on to a crossfield ball from Martin.
Berwick see out the old year at Shielfield this Saturday when the visitors are Edinburgh City, who have the same points as Berwick but sit two places above them with a superior goal difference. The match marks the exact halfway point in the 36 match League campaign. Never mind Plastic Bertrand. Perhaps a rendition of ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ might help.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, Hamilton, McKinlay, Notman ( Stirling 60 ), Scullion, Martin, Thomson ( Mackie 60 ), Lavery, Rutherford, M.Mckenna, Sheerin ( Perez 83 )