Rangers slump as ’Shire claim first away victory

Kevin McDonald on the ball during Berwick Rangers v East Stirlingshire
Kevin McDonald on the ball during Berwick Rangers v East Stirlingshire

Berwick Rangers 0


East Stirling 2

Dingwall 40, Turner 84

by Keith Hamblin

at Shielfield Park

BERWICK turned in another poor performance when they went down to bottom of the table East Stirling at a windy Shielfield on Saturday.

And with his team now having only recorded one win in their last 12 matches, manager Ian Little admitted time was starting to run out on their play-off hopes.

“Whilst it is still possible I have to say it is our aim,” he said afterwards, “but that was another disappointing performance from us today and it’s obvious that we are making life more and more difficult for ourselves.

“Robbie Horn (his assistant) and I now have a major job on our hands if we are to turn things around before the end of the season.”

Little’s side were booed off the pitch by a section of the home crowd, and he said he could understand the fans’ frustrations.

“After our win at Alloa a couple of weeks ago I was hoping we might kick on, but it just hasn’t happened.

“The players are lacking in confidence, in self belief and I also think that in some respects they have a lack of desire.

“I can’t fault them for effort, and I have every faith in their abilities, because we have some good players, but things just aren’t going right for us at the moment.”

East Stirling, managed by Little’s former Berwick boss John Coughlin, arrived at Shielfield without an away win to their credit all season.

They are anchored firmly at the foot of the table, and Rangers knew that if they were to stage a belated recovery to climb back up the league this was a must win fixture.

But on a day when their short passing game deserted them - a feature which has earned them so much praise in the past - they struggled to gain a foothold in the match and despite their lowly position ‘Shire looked the better side for long periods.

In Lewis Horner they had a player who was a constant threat, and he signalled his early intentions with a flashing shot wide with just 60 seconds on the clock.

After the home horror show against Annan a week previous, Berwick shored up their defence with a home debut for Stephen Tulloch, and he turned in a creditable performance at centre back.

But by Little’s own admission Berwick were ‘atrocious going forward’ and never really imposed their authority on the match.

After some early flurries from Darren Gribben, he faded badly and was eventually substituted.

Stuart Noble saw little of the ball and as a result ‘Shire keeper Callum Antell had little to do in the first half.

At the other end Horner fired over narrowly from a free kick whilst Michael Hunter had a header collected safely by Jamie barclay on his line.

And Barclay also had to be alert, rushing from his line to block Andy Stirling, who broke from half-way but was denied by the keeper’s feet.

The breakthough came after 40 minutes when Joe Dingwall found himself in possession wide on the left. There looked to be little danger as he crossed from a tight angle, but, perhaps deceived by the wind, Barclay was left stranded as the ball found its way into the net via the back post.

A minute later Barclay had to go full length to make another fine save, whilst Stirling fired over from distance.

At the start of the second half Berwick had a bright opening spell, the best chance falling to Andy McLean who volleyed wide whilst Tulloch had a header from a corner blocked on the line.

Damon Gray, on for Gribben, shot into the side netting, whilst midway through the half Lee Currie saw a first time shot from just six yards out blocked by the keeper after the ball was cut back to him from the bye-line.

Antell also made a good save from Kevin McDonald, but for all their chances it would be fair to say that Rangers still failed to boss the play and the final nail in their coffin came in the 84th minute when ‘Shire centre forward Kevin Turner ran onto a long through ball down the centre. despite the attentions of a defender he managed to take the ball past barclay before shooting into the empty net.

Manager Coughlin was obviously delighted with the result, but he questioned whether or not they would be able to close the gap on the sides above them: “We might have left it too late for that,” he said.

In contrast Berwick boss Little was left scratching his head, wondering how he could find some consistency in his team, an element which has been lacking over the past couple of months.

“We have 11 games left to try and turn things around,” he said. “I know the players are capable, but they just need the confidence and the self belief to go out and do it.”

Berwick Rangers: Barclay 6, Mclean 6, Thomson 5, Tulloch 7, Townsley 6, Currie 6, R Gray 5, Greenhill 5 (McLaren 65), Noble 4 (Ferguson 75), Gribben 6 (D Gray 58), McDonald 5.

East Stirling: Antell, Devlin, Dingwall, Frances, Jackson, Hunter, Lurinsky, Stirling, Turner (Team 86), Horner, Maxwell.

Referee: Paul Robertson.

Attendance: 349.