Berwick Rangers Reserves 3, Gala Fairydean 2: The Reserves ended Gala’s 100 per cent league record, but the visitors were unlucky to leave Shielfield empty handed.
The main talking points of the first half were penalties and three great saves from Rangers’ keeper Ian McCaldon.
After only five minutes, the Big Eagle dived across his goal to tip away Scott Nightingale’s free-kick from near the touchline. He thwarted Fairydean’s other main attacking threat, Jack Hay, who set himself up for a crack from 16 yards. A one-handed effort stopped Craig Tyson from even closer.
Gala goalie Elliot Turnbull’s feet saved from Stuart Noble, playing his first full competitive game of the season.
Much of Berwick’s early attacking play relied on Neil Janczyk distributing long passes, not all of which found their man.
As for the penalties, early on, Hay skipped past Steven Bennett and went down as he met the next defender. Gala supporters were convinced it was a penalty. Referee Simon MacLean wasn’t.
Andrew Brown stopped Jamie Doris with a great tackle, but seconds later, at the other side of the box, dumped Sam Todd. For the second week running, Todd opened the Reserves’ account from the penalty spot.
Gala began the second half with a burst of pressure, but made no headway against the home defence, leaving diminutive Ben McGregor, who outshone Janczyk in midfield, to try his luck, unsuccessfully, from 30 yards. In the 65th minute, Todd, who had spurned an excellent scoring opportunity eight minutes earlier, was booked for diving. Immediately afterwards, Ramsay too, for tripping Nightingale whose revenge was to send the free kick from the edge of the ‘D’ into the bottom corner of McCaldon’s net.
After Hay’s over-elaboration cost Gala the chance of taking the lead, Berwick did so again. Noble picked up a wayward Gala pass and stormed down the left to supply Greig Smith. Paul Young retreated to clear Smith’s shot off the line but the ball arrived at trialist Dean Carse, who netted via the post.
McGregor combined with Grant Gass on 80 minutes with McCaldon exposed but Gass couldn’t get a decent finish and it was Berwick who scored again four minutes later. Smith took avantage when a Gala attack broke down. Turnbull vainly rushed out enabling Smith to give Carse the chance to grab his second goal.
Battling Gala scored again two minutes from time. Hay picked his spot to complete a smart move which also featured Nightingale and David Bonnar. The one goal margin of defeat left Fairydean supporters still discussing the penalty that wasn’t even after the final whistle.
Berwick Rangers Reserves: McCaldon, Ramsay, Brady, Fairbairn, Bennett, Doris (O’Brien 47), Janczyk, Gill (Carse 60), Todd (Rendall 71), Smith, Noble.