McCaldon backs axed keeper Bejaoui to bounce back

Ian McCaldon
Ian McCaldon

BERWICK Rangers back-up keeper Ian McCaldon is confident the man he replaced, Youssef Bejaoui, will benefit from being dropped as No 1.

Player-coach McCaldon, who missed the whole of last season with a back injury, pulled on the gloves for the first time in 19 months for Saturday’s 3-1 victory over promotion-chasing Annan at Shielfield.

Bejaoui was dropped after his poor performance against Stenhousemuir in the 5-2 Scottish Cup defeat in midweek and it remains to be seen who will line up in goal at East Stirlingshire on Sunday.

“I’m 38 now and I have a few aches and pains,” admitted McCaldon, “But I enjoyed it and the only disappointment was that I didn’t keep a clean sheet.”

McCaldon knows Bejaoui will feel frustrated at being dropped, but believes it will do him good in the long run.

“He will probably look upon it as a punishment,” he said, “but he is still learning the game and I think he will be all the stronger for it at the end of the day.

“It’s hard for him, but that’s football, and I have been in that position before so I know how he feels.”

McCaldon says that despite his lengthy lay-off he is still confident and agile enough to take his place between the sticks and hopes to retain his place for the trip to East Stirling this Sunday.

“It was good to be back,” he said, “but the most important thing was that we won today. After two defeats, and especially after Tuesday’s game against Stenhousemuir, when the players’ confidence took a knock, we knew we had to bounce back.

“It was a competent performance today and the lads will get a boost from that.”

Manager Ian Little said he had no hesitation in handing McCaldon the gloves. “Ian has a lot of experience and when I asked him if he was confident enough to play he said he was,” he said.

Little said that after Tuesday’s defeat he was looking for a reaction from his players, and he got it in their performance against Annan.

“All the players stepped up to the mark and it was a great team effort,” he said.

“We made changes, but ‘Eagle’ (McCaldon) did well after coming back in, and the likes of Ross Gray and Darren Lavery also played their part.

“Ross gives us a bit more balance since coming into the side, and Darren is starting to develop into the player I always thought he could become.

“He took his goal well today, and as he is only 20 I think he has a good future ahead of him.”

Lavery, who has now netted six times this season, says he is growing in confidence and is learning to pick his sport rather than burst the net every time he takes a shot.

“It’s something I am developing in my game and that’s why I am happy to be here playing at Berwick every week.

“When I came into the squad last season it was a bit frustrating at first. I wasn’t getting a regular game because Darren Gribben was banging in a few goals and it took me a while to find my feet. This year I have had a run in the team and the goals are starting to come now.”