ALLOA ATHLETIC 3 BERWICK RANGERS 2
The current glut of first-team fixtures scheduled for Shielfield forced Berwick to concede home advantage for this game and so make a third trip to the Indodrill Stadium this season.
Raith Rovers are practically certain to retain the champions’ flag but Ronan Kearney’s late goal ensured a vital three points for Alloa in their battle with Livingston for the runners-up spot.
Playing in dark blue instead of their characteristic Wasps’ shirts, Alloa were not such convincing winners as in their 4-2 success over the young Rangers exactly a month earlier.
Berwick included another trio of trialists but not the same three who featured in the team’s previous game with Cowdenbeath at Kelty.
Their team opened on the attack and in the 11th minute Gary Windram was unlucky with a strike from almost 30 yards.
Five minutes later, home goalie Christopher Wylie pushed away Grant Rose’s 25-yard angled drive for a corner which led to another hit from Windram that Wylie also stopped.
Alloa were quickly at the other end, Sam Fisher heading their first corner over the bar.
They went on to draw first blood on 26 minutes when Joe Slee knocked on Wylie’s long kick. Berwick defenders allowed the bounce of the ball to favour John Cunningham, leaving MacAulay Jarrett with little chance of preventing him from scoring.
Jack Murray hit the outside of the post after Rose headed a Jamie Chapman free-kick in his direction. Windram, unmarked, was annoyed with himself for a weak shot straight at Wylie after controlling a crossfield ball, but was much happier a minute from half-time after getting on the end of another one from Paul Simpson to fire in an equaliser.
Three corners inside the first five minutes suggested a promising second half for Berwick, but 10 minutes in they were again behind. Cunningham headed Slee’s cross against the bar before Scott Sinclair drilled home Alloa’s second goal.
Some sturdy Alloa defending kept Berwick at bay but, with the final 10 minutes approaching, they struggled to contain a determined Rose inside their penalty area until he was fouled by Daniel Moran. All square seemed just about right when Rose comfortably beat Wylie with the spot-kick.
Stuart Allan, who took over in goal from Jarrett at half-time, was airborne as he made the save of the night, using both hands to turn away Sinclair’s scorcher.
His effort proved in vain. From Mark Greene’s corner, Kearney’s 84th-minute header put Athletic in front for the third and final time.
Berwick Rangers: Jarrett (Allan 46), A.Trialist, Heath, Chapman (capt.), Cook, Murray, Windram (Briggs 71), B. Trialist (Smth 67), Rose, C.Trialist, Simpson