Elgin City 1-0 Berwick Rangers

Jonny Fairbairn in action for Berwick Rangers
Jonny Fairbairn in action for Berwick Rangers

Elgin moved five points clear at the top of Scottish League Division 2 when they defeated Berwick Rangers at Borough Briggs on Saturday.

The defeat leaves Rangers six points adrift of third from bottom Montrose, just two above basement side East Stirling, and it is clear John Couglin’s team now have a major task on their hands to try and climb away from the foot of the table in the coming weeks.

Berwick were without regular striker Darren Lavery, who was unavailable for personal reasons.

New signing Brian Martin made his full debut, having played part of the previous game as a trialist, but there was a set-back for Rangers when skipper Jonny fairbairn was sent off after 52 minutes, meaning the visitors had to play most of the second half with only ten men.

Elgin made by far the better start and created two chances in the first five minutes with Thomas Reilly having a shot blocked before Archie MacPhee pulled a shot wide.

Craig Gunn then signalled his intentions with two quickfire efforts, one which was blocked, and another which was wide.

But the striker soon found the net when he opened the scoring after 12 minutes, firing high into the roof of the goal.

As Berwick tried to force their way back into the match, Michael McKenna had a shot blocked and then new signing Brian Martin forced home keeper Hurst into making a save.

Fairbairn then shot wide from a corner before Blair Henderson had an effort blocked.

But Elgin still looked dangerous and Berwick keeper Kevin Walker was thrice called into action to deny Daryl McHardy and then Mark Nicholson, who tried his luck with a long range effort from outside the box, before getting down low to save from a Mark McKenzie header.

McHardy then had a shot blocked as the home side tried to crank up the pressure in the build up to half-time, but just a minute before the break it was Fairbairn, at the other end, who had the best chance, when he saw a header from a corner saved in the bottom corner leaving it 1-0 at the whistle.

In the second half Elgin again started the better with Dylan Easton and McKenzie having early chances.

Berwick’s task was made all the more difficult when captain Fairbairn was sent off after 52 minutes, shown a red card for violent conduct.

Dylan Stevenson had a shot blocked for Berwick, but Rangers were being forced back and McHardy headed over before another header was saved by Walker.

MacPhee then had a shot blocked, whilst at the other end, Finn Graham, just minutes after being introduced as a substitute, pushed a header narrowly wide.

With ten minutes remaining Connor McLaren brought out another save from Walker, before Easton again shot wide from a corner. Almost right on the final whistle, with Rangers on the back foot, Daniel Moore shot over.