BERWICK manager Ian Little has started his rebuilding process in readiness for a new era at Shielfield next season.
With Stephen Thomson having already been farmed out to Junior side Bonnyrigg Rose, last season’s leading scorer Darren Gribben followed him out the exit door last week when he was put out on loan to Boness Juniors until the end of the season, although he can be recalled by Rangers if his services are required.
Gribben has only been a bit part player this term, and has not been a regular in the starting line-up over the past few months.
His often controversial manner has also been seen as a contribution to his own downfall at times, although there is no denying that on his day he can be a prolific finisher.
Coming into the squad in Gribben’s place is 17 year-old Hibs asset Danny Handling. And the young striker made an immediate impact at the weekend, scoring both goals in Berwick’s 2-1 away win at Peterhead.
Little has already brought in defender Jordon Forster from Hibernian and Connor McGlinchey from Hamilton.
Both have now had their emergency loan deals extended until May, although Forster had the misfortune to be sent off at Peterhead and will now miss this Saturday’s home match against Clyde.
Also making his debut on Saturday was goalkeeper Youseff Bejaoui. He joined the club on loan from Cowdenbeath until the end of the season and went straight into the team to replace the previous ever-present Jamie Barclay, who has been nursing a hand and thigh injuries.
Of Handling’s performance Little said: “He played really well and added a bit fire-power to the attack formation.”
And of Forster’s sending off he added: “I felt desperately sorry for Jordon. He was shown a red card for a deliberate hand ball offence but I felt it was a harsh decision but one we just have to accept.”
Of the game itself Little said:
“The players all worked hard and it was a really good all round display and certainly gives us a big lift.
“The aim now is to produce the same form on home territory in front of our own fans when we meet Clyde this coming Saturday.
“We haven’t won at home for three months (since last November) and it just isn’t good enough. The fans deserve better.”
Little and his assistant, Robbie Horn, got the go-ahead from the Board of Directors to continue in their roles through to next season, following a presentation last weekend.
The play-offs may remain a mathematical possibility, but the pair have both admitted this campaign has now ‘gone’ and they need to concentrate on building towards next season.
“Our objective now is to identify the players from within the existing squad we would like to keep,” said Horn, “and also look at the type of players we would like to bring in to add strength to the squad.
“There’s no denying there is a big job to be done here at Berwick, but both ‘Yano’ (Little) and myself are up for the challenge.”
Chairman Brian Porteous says Little and Horn are ‘young and hungry’ and ‘deserve the chance to build a team of their own.’
“We could have gone down the road of severing all ties now and either bringing back an old face or some new young blood,” he said.
“But we have decided to stick with Ian and Robbie and give them a chance to prove themselves.”