by Keith Hamblin
at Shielfield Park
BERWICK recorded their first win of 2011, and their first in nine games, when they beat Montrose at Shielfield Park on Tuesday.
But Rangers left it oh so late, with Paul Currie leaving it until the 88th minute before popping up to net the winner.
After two previous draws between the two sides - the latest of which was at Links Park on Saturday - this game also looked destined to end in stalemate.
Both sides tried to knock the ball around, but there were too many mis-placed passes, and with no end product it looked to have 0-0 written all over it.
But with just two minutes left on the clock Berwick produced a rare moment of quality . . . and it gifted them all three points.
Strikers Darren Gribben and Damon Gray, who had both started the match on the bench, were introduced in the final quarter, and it was their involvement which helped the team pick up the pace.
Gribben played in a delicate chipped through ball into the box which was knocked down into the path of Currie and the midfielder struck a sweet first time shot from the edge of the penalty area which curled in at the far post.
It was a goal which had everyone connected with the club breathing a collective sigh of relief as it meant a first win since November and only their second victory in 15 outings.
Berwick had looked the better of the two sides in the first half with Montrose forced into making two early last ditch blocking tackles to prevent Berwick players running through on goal.
David Greenhill, back after suspension, and who saw plenty of the ball, twice fired wide from distance, whilst Ian Little also just failed to connect properly whilst stretching to reach a good through ball from Craig O’Reilly.
O’Reilly himself also just failed to connent with an inswinging Stuart Callaghan free kick out on the right which drifted inches wide.
But it was Callaghan who went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when he latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box after 25 minutes and his first-time shot agonisingly bounced back off the inside of the Montrose post with goalkeeper Sandy Wood well beaten to his left.
It was not all one-way traffic, however, and fullback Sean Crighton went close at the other end when he ran across the front of the Berwick defence and his glancing header from an Alan Campbell free kick brought a smart save out of Mark Peat low to his right.
At the start of the second half it was the visitors who came out of the traps quickest and they forced a series of early corners which had the Berwick defence scramblng to clear.
Conor Thomson had a glancing header wide from a free kick on the right, and front man Paul Tosh, who had a quiet game by his standards, shot straight at Peat after a good build-up from Stephen McNally, who beat two defenders before setting him up.
For a spell the game became scrappy, but it was Montrose who looked as if they were getting the upper hand.
The introduction of Gribben and Gray, however, injected a fresh impetus into Berwick’s play and with their first venture into the opposition box Currie headed over from a cross by O’Reilly.
Manager Jimmy Crease later admitted he had thought about taking Currie off as the player was suffering from a calf strain.
“But Paul is a key player for us. He has a great engine,” said Crease, “and we only take him off when we really need to.
“As it is we know he can pop up on the edge of the box and score goals like that, so naturally I’m happy we decided to keep him on the pitch until the end of this one.”
Berwick Rangers: Peat 6, Notman 6, Callaghan 7, McLean 7, Ewart 7, Grant 8, Brazil 6 (Gray 79), Currie 7, O’Reilly 7 (Gordon 86), Little 7 (Gribben 68), Greenhill 7.
Montrose: Wood, Crighton, Pope, Benedictus, Campbell, Cameron (Nichol 65), McNally, Davidson, Tosh (Boyle 80), Thomson, Sinclair.
Referee: Gary Hillard