Andy McLean, who cried off with illness from the first team’s midweek game at Montrose, was solid as the ‘old head’ at the heart of the defence where he was partnered by Alan Hay from the Under 19s.
Their inclusion allowed Jonny Fairbairn to move into midfield where he and Jamie Doris took advantage of the generous space often permitted them by the hosts. Up front, Greig Smith didn’t score himself but had a hand in all three Berwick goals.
Neither side had played a competitive match for over a month and the players’ hunger for real action was evident in a fast, engrossing affair. The first real chance fell to Fairydean. Scott Nightingale sent Jack Hay racing towards goal but his low shot took a deflection for a corner.
After Paul Young gave away the ball, Josh Morris had two shots blocked, one after the other, the second by home goalkeeper Elliot Turnbull. Smith lashed the side netting and on the half hour, Kenny O’Brien, Berwick’s top performer over the 90 minutes, fired over the bar and knew he should have done better.
Reserves’ keeper Asher Tufail beat Jack Hay to another long through ball and Berwick then dealt with three Gala corners in a row despite Tufail dropping the last one. The game looked destined for a goalless first half. That changed when Stewart Davidson’s attempted square pass to Young was intercepted by Morris. Smith acted as link man finding O’Brien who opened the scoring.
Jack Hay levelled with a perfectly placed delivery from just inside the box sixty seconds into the new half. Berwick hit back immediately. O’Brien played a short corner to Smith whose cross was headed goalwards by Morris. Turnbull palmed away the ball but it hit the hand of the unfortunate Davidson, making his debut after signing from Ormiston, and travelled into the irate keeper’s net.
A couple of good chances were missed by Gala’s Hay but most of the second half play was inside the Fairydean half. Doris ended a determined individual run with a pass meant for Morris but which bounced away from him though on 77 minutes, Morris tucked away Smith’s low cross to make it 3-1 before Smith forced Turnbull into a leaping save at his near post.
The Reserves passing game on the dry 3G surface had paid dividends. As one local radio reporter commented, this win was down to a combination of skill and hard work.
Berwick Rangers Reserves: Tufail, Finlayson, Brady, McLean, A Hay, Doris, Fairbairn, O’Brien, Smith (Ford 89), Morris, Gill (Todd 74).