Stoppage time equaliser

A return to Shielfield for this weeks fixture where we took on Cumbernauld Colts. They were coming off the back of a heavy defeat to Penicuik last week in the cup whilst we went looking for our first home league win since March.

There is still engineering works between Morpeth and Edinburgh therefore it is a replacement bus service from Newcastle. We therefore made the decision to drive there and back on the day.

Skipping out on the town centre, we headed straight to the Black and Gold for a pre match pint or two. We caught up with a few of the regulars before heading into the ground, abit earlier than usual.

It was bright and sunny at Shielfield but it is starting to get alot colder. The teamsheet showed just one change from the week before, with Sean Brennan being replaced in goal by Mark Walters.

We started well and applied most of the early pressure. Healy had a shot at the edge of the box which was blocked and Barr saw his left foot volley flash past the post following a good run from Balde.

Barr had a further chance after being set up from Balde again after Healy had played him in. The keeper save well with his feet. We were having alot of the play and were controlling the game without having a goal to show for it.

The referee was getting alot of stick from the home support. Barr was booked for a strong challenge, although he appeared to win the ball. Balde was next in the book for dissent after protesting for a free kick of his own.

Berwick took the lead just after the half hour mark. Kevin Waugh was found out wide from a cross field pass by Ricky Miller. Waugh got the ball out of his feet a whipped in a cross from just past the St John’s Ambulance dugout half way into the Cumbernauld Colts half. His cross was met by the head of Dan Purves and he found the back of the net.

We kept the pressure on after the goal and pushed for a second. Purves had a run at the Cumbernauld Colts defence and went over in the box. The referee booked him for diving, much to the displeasure of the Berwick players in that area who felt as though it was a penalty.

Euan Smith blazed over from the edge of the box after a good passage of play from Ciaran Brian. Smith had a very good game yesterday, particularly in the first half where he was controlling and dictating the tempo.

Cumbernauld Colts were reduced to counter attacks and won themselves a couple of corners towards the end of the first half. We dealt with the corner and tried to counter attack but Colts came back forward. A Colts player went down on the far right hand side of the box and the referee pointed straight to the spot.

The home fans on the stand side would have had a better view than I did, and they were making their feelings know to the referee. Ross Kavanagh stepped up but blasted the ball over the cross bar. That was our 9th penalty conceded so far this season. A stat that defies belief.

We went into the break 1-0 up and it was a lead that we fully deserved, if anything we should have been further in front. After a short half time break (we kicked off late in the first half so the interval was only 10 minutes long), the players made their way out for the second half.

Berwick doubled their lead 2 minutes into the second half. Waugh turned from provider to scorer, with a free kick 25 yards out on his left foot. He came close against Tranent and East Kilbride with similar efforts.

Again, we kept the pressure on after the goal with Brian having a shot from the edge of the box blocked and Ricky Miller also having a header blocked from six yards out following a corner.

Colts had a long throw themselves which was half scrambled clear and after the first shot was blocked, a volley was smashed well over the bar. Brian again had an effort at the other end which was deflected just past the post.

The away side were growing as the game went on and won a couple of corners which Walters dealt with. From a Berwick perspective, Healy had a header which went past the post after Waugh had lofted a free kick into the box. Healy also had a shot blocked not long after.

The pressure from Colts began building into the last half hour. Ricky Miller sliced a cross over his own crossbar as Colts won a couple of more corners. Walters dealt with the first, the second was cleared as far as the penalty spot but the Colts player couldn’t keep his volley down.

Cammy Lumsden was the next player in the book after he hacked down a Cumbernauld Colts player on the far touchline. The resulting free kick was headed behind for a corner by Kevin Waugh. The corner was played into the box and headed home by Lewis Bonar from close range. 2-1.

Ross Kavanagh should have levelled not long after with a header back across goal which went wide of the post. Craig Holmes had a shot which went wide and Walters had to make a low save as Colts pushed for an equaliser.

Yano responded with a double change which saw Balde and Lumsden replaced by Rose and Windram. Ciaran Brian moved over to the right hand side and it looked as though we went with two up front.

Windram, full of energy whipped a ball into the box but Rose’s effort was tame under pressure and the keeper collected easily. Windram then had a shot saved at the near post himself after beating his man in a one v one. Rose also saw a header go wide of the post after a free kick in the wide position from Kevin Waugh.

It looked as though we had weathered the earlier storm and were going to see the game out for what, in my opinion, was a fully deserved three points. That was up until the first minute of stoppage time when a cross came into the box and Bonar headed in his second of the game at the far post. It was very similar to the third goal we conceded at East Kilbride the week prior.

Really disappointing to concede so late on and draw the game after being 2-0 up and in complete control. I was really deflated after the game and it felt much more like a defeat. Having said that, Cumbernauld Colts are clearly a decent side and we are in the middle of a tricky run of games. The performance continued from last weeks positive showing and I feel like we aren’t far away from putting a few good results together.

The Spartans game is off on Tuesday so we are next up against Kelty Hearts. The only team to have beaten them this season is Cumbernauld Colts and whilst Kelty have blasted alot of teams away, we can take positives from the last couple of performances and shouldn’t be going into the game with any fear. ‘Mon the ‘Gers.

Heading west

Our opponents this weekend were reigning Lowland League champions East Kilbride at the K Park Stadium. It was my birthday on Sunday so we made a weekend out of it and stayed in Edinburgh on Friday and Saturday. We got the train into Glasgow Queen Street on Saturday morning and headed down to Glasgow Central to catch the train to East Kilbride.

On arrival at East Kilbride, we opted to walk from the train station and find a local pub as the stadium was just under 2 miles away. The weather was lush, it was red hot so the preference was one with an outdoor area. It was a short walk to the closest pub, the Montgomery arms. They had the Leicester v Spurs game on inside and a seated area outside.

We headed to the ground just before 2pm via a local taxi. I’d seen online that there was a sports bar next door to the ground so that’s where we headed. Inside, there were three other punters in but the closing stages of the Leicester game was on the TV. We finished off our drinks and made the short walk across the road to the stadium.

It’s a decent little stadium at K Park. We were told there was no standing behind the goal, it was only open for directors and big crowds. Wikipedia has the capacity as 660 (400 seated).

Onto the game itself, we took a very early lead through Daryl Healy. It was from a long ball forward, the defender seemed to misjudge the flight of the ball and Healy found himself 1 on 1 with the goalkeeper and finished well. What a start!

The first half was quite even with chances at both ends. East Kilbride almost hit back straight away but their winger saw their shot sail over the bar. He had a similar opportunity later in the half with the same result.

Martin made a very good save in the East Kilbride goal from the very impressive Daryl Healy and Dan Purves couldn’t quite reach the rebound. Martin made a further save 5 minutes later again from Healy who saw his shot pushed behind for a corner from a difficult angle.

East Kilbride’s equaliser came right at the end of the half. They broke away from a Berwick corner and got a cross into the box which was cleared away for a corner of their own. The initial corner was cleared to the touchline on the far side. Brownlie collected the ball and whipped a cross into the box. Winter met it with a header on the far right hand side of the six yard box and the ball hit the back of the net.

Our new loan signing from Rangers, John Balde, had an effort of his own blocked just before half time but the resulting corner was cleared. It was disappointing to lose a goal so close to half time but the performance was much better than the week before away at Tranent.

I ended up just outside the turnstiles at half time and could hear Stuart Malcolm tearing into his players from th East Kilbride dressing room, so expected a reaction to come in the second half. The home fans certainly got one, with Kilby scoring one minute after kick off. Paul Winters with the goal from outside of the box with the help of a heavy deflection.

East Kilbride were pushing forward and we were under big pressure. Four minutes later, the home fans were celebrating again. Winter crossed the ball into the box, Brennan got a hand to it but Ruari Paton was waiting to head home from close range at the far post.

We found ourselves 3-1 down, shell shocked and it looked like we were going to concede every time East Kilbride went forward. Ricky Miller returned to the side after missing last week and was a major factor in ensuring we did not concede any further goals.

It took us until ten minutes into the half when we managed to get our composure back and pushed up the pitch. Shortly after, we won a corner on the right hand side. The ball was played into the box and Healy got up highest and met it with a fantastic header which went in off the post.

Game on! We continued to fight and battle in midfield and tried to get in behind but we weren’t creating too much in terms of clear cut chances. Purves saw a header clip the post and Healy had a volley which went wide of the post. Shortly before this, Healy had gone down with an injury and required medical treatment.

On the hour mark, Yano made a double change with Daryl Healy and John Balde making way for Grant Rose and Yaw Osei. It was a surprising change as I thought both had been our best players on the day, Healy in particular causing alot of problems. However, I’m not sure if Healy may have been struggling with the earlier injury and I don’t know how much football John Balde has played recently so this might have had an impact on the decision.

Yaw made an immediate impact, winning a free kick on the edge of the box. Kevin Waugh took it, got it over the wall and drew a very good save from the goalkeeper, who pushed it away for a corner. This was our biggest chance of the second half. We pushed forward in the last ten minutes but failed to create much of note. Kilby caught us on the counter attack twice and Brennan made two very good saves to keep the score at 3-2.

All in all an improvement in performance and could have easily picked up a point (if not all three), had we not had hit the self destruct either side of half time. Darryl Healy deservedly got the social media man of the match award but John Balde also had a very good game. I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.

Onto the Cumbernauld Colts game on Saturday. We are back at Shielfield for the first time in a couple of weeks. Hoping to overturn our poor form.

Tranent Away

Saturday saw us travel just up the A1 to take on Tranent in the second round of the South Challenge Cup, at an unfamiliar 2:30pm kick off time.

Tranent have made a great start to their league campaign and beat last weeks opponents, Gala Fairydean Rovers, 6-0 in the previous round.

I headed up from Newcastle, with the trains being off between Morpeth and Edinburgh we decided that we would travel by car. I took the turn to drive there and Emma took over and drove us home after the game.

We got into Tranent just after 1pm, leaving the car close to the ground, we headed for a brief walk. I say brief as it was very windy. I’d seen on the club match preview that fans were being welcomed at the bowls club which was only a short distance from the ground.

We bumped into another couple of Berwick fans in the pub and sat with them to catch up, talking about the game from the previous week and an overall assessment on the season so far. The pub itself was very friendly and incredibly cheap, they had the Celtic game on the TV and when this finished, the channel was switched to Newcastle’s trip to Liverpool. We got talking to a couple of locals about how our respective seasons have been going and the odds for the game on the day.

Onto the game itself, we had started quite well and had a couple of chances early on. Dan Purves had a shot that was side footed straight at former Berwick goalkeeper Ali Adams. Ciaran Chalmers also had a header that went wide following a corner.

After ten mins, disaster struck and Traent were awarded a penalty following a foul on the edge of the box with their first real attack. It seemed soft but had it been at the other end, I would have been shouting for us to be given it.

I’m fairly sure that was our 8th penalty conceded so far this season over 13 games (Stranaer x2, Bonnyrigg, Stirling Uni, Rangers Colts, Gala x2 and Tranent). That’s some record mind.

Stephen Macdonald stepped up and sent Mark Walters (who had came into the side in replacement of Sean Brennan) the wrong way to put the home side 1-0 up.

Ricky Miller missed the game due to family commitments and his lack of presence was evident. Lewy Barr and Yaw Osei had dropped to the bench. The wind was playing a major part and in turn, the game was quite scrappy. We continued to push forward and Purves had a further effort which went wide of the far post from the edge of the box.

After some good football in midfield, Grant Rose then whipped the ball into the box and it was turned behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Purves had a header which hit a Tranent arm and the referee pointed straight to the spot. Rose took it, scuffed it and it rolled into the centre of the goal.

Tempers flared following a couple of bookings for the home side and the Tranent manager was sent off. I was nearer the corner flag than the dugout so didn’t see what had happened and only found out about it at half time. We went into the break level.

This only last 8 minutes into the second half when Andy Jones picked the ball up on the right wing for Tranent, cut inside and fired a shot that went through Walters’ hands. He was a long way out, the shot was central and didn’t have much power behind it but the wind caught it and made it difficult for Walters.

Ten minutes after the home side had went in front, Walters made a couple of good saves in a matter of minutes. We made a couple of changes and introduced Osei and Barr which gave us abit of a lift.

We had a header cleared off the line following a corner and Osei saw a shot from the edge of the box go past the post. A Kevin Waugh freekick was tipped onto the crossbar from the home sides goalkeeper (who had replaced Adams in the first half).

We played much better in the first half and I didn’t feel as though we deserved to lose the game. It was very competitive and Tranent have some very good individual players. Sean Murphy, who was at Berwick last year, had a very good game in the centre of the park and both goalscorers caused us problems. I’d expect Tranent to be in the Lowland League very soon.

It’s hard being a fan of Berwick Rangers (especially at the moment). I was under no illusions that this year was going to be a case of rebuilding and establishing ourselves in a new league and the introduction of the cup competitions that came with our relegation. It’s only September and the players are still getting used to each other, we only kept a handful of them from last year. However, it feels like we are still spiralling. Our next four games will be very difficult:

21/9 – East Kilbride (A)
28/9 – Cumbernauld Colts (H)
1/10 – Spartans (A)
5/10 – Kelty Hearts (H)

I’ll be there at Kilby on Saturday. Forever in hope!

Home comforts? Not so much

I travelled alone for this one. We landed back in Newcastle late last night and I was sick on the plane. I didn’t get much sleep but managed to pass a late fitness test and caught the train in plenty of time.

I started the afternoon as I do most home games, in the Brewers Arms (or the Battery to the locals) where I had arranged to meet friends from Windsor.

Brewers Arms

After a quick catch up, I headed down the road to the Curfew before heading towards the ground.

The Curfew

I got to the ground in plenty of time and had a couple before making my way towards a very blustery Ducket. I expected a difficult game, Civil Service Strollers had beaten reigning champions East Kilbride midweek and were the only team to take a point off Bonnyrigg so far this season. However, I was feeling quite optimistic on account of us winning three games in a row.

I was suprised to see all three strikers starting (Rose, Healy and Yaw) and Chalmers had moved into the back three with Waugh moving out wide. Sean Brennan was back in goal after his holiday too.

We started well and just after 15 mins we took the lead through Lewis Barr. Ricky Miller spread the ball out wide to Kevin Waugh who put the ball across the face of the goal and Barr was on hand to tap the ball home. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of Barr. Personally, I prefer him playing in a more advanced role but he is equally effective running from deep.

Our lead was only to last two minutes. The ball was played forward from the rght wing and there was miscommunication at the back between Miller, Chalmers and Brennan. Cunningham got to the ball before Brennan and tapped it past him before finding the empty net. It was very similar to the goal that Spartans conceded at Shielfield at the same end the other week.

Following this, Barr drew a good save from the goalkeeper and had a left foot volley which went just wide of the post. There was little between the two sides going into the break. I felt as though the game was there for the taking and we should have been going on to take all three points.

The second half was a completely different story. We didn’t get going and deservedly went on to lose 3-1. Muirhead got a second for CSS after 67 mins after a good move. He got a second of his own on 74 mins when we were caught on the break pushing men forward for an equaliser. Ricky Miller had earlier had a long range effort flash over the bar and, following the third goal, saw a header from a corner saved at close range.

The winning run therefore came to an end. We hadn’t won 4 games in a row since 2012/13. We move onto Gala away on Saturday, a game I am very much looking forward to. It was one of the first fixtures I looked for when they were announced. Here’s hoping we can keep up with our 100 percent away win league record (1 played, 1 won).

A win… last!

On Saturday, we faced Spartans in the 1st round of the Football Nations Qualifying Cup. I’m still getting used to the Lowland League and the host of cup competitions that we will now be involved in following our relegation. I wasn’t entirely sure on what to expect from the game, especially considering we were up against the current holders.

I didn’t go to the Rangers Colts game in the Challenge Cup but heard that we were unfortunate and made a good account of ourselves. I’d also read good things about our new signing, Ricky Miller, and was looking forward to seeing him in action.

We got to the ground a little later than usual after making a couple of stops at the Brown Bear and the Barrells Ale House prior to finishing up at the Black and Gold for a couple of beers. The town felt quieter than usual and that was echoed in the Ducket. Not many Spartans fans made the trip and it was mainly the die hards from a Berwick perspective.

It was blowing a gale but the sun was out and the rain stayed away. The Spartans starting 11 included ex ‘Gers Aaron Murrell and Dean Hoskins, whilst Scott Maxwell and David Greenhill were on the bench. Kevin Haynes led the team as Yano was away at a wedding.

Yaw Osei served the first game of his two match ban, due to the Gretna game being postponed. The second game will be served in the first round of the Challenge Cup next season. There was also a welcome return to the squad for Euan Smith, who has had a tough couple of weeks away from football. Sending his family my best wishes.

Berwick took the lead after 25 mins through Lewis Barr. Healy picked the ball up around 35 yards from goal and picked out Ciaran Brian on the corner of the six yard box, who in turn headed it across to Barr to tap in from close range. At the time, I thought it was offside. From watching it back, it is much closer than I initially thought. The linesman is right up with play so would have had a much better view than I did.

Barr had his best game for a while and was involved in most of the good things we did; composed on the ball, a threat going forward and showing tenacity in midfield, it was great to see. He never fails to give less than 100 percent and I was happy to see that we had retained him in preseason.

Photo courtesy of @officialbrfc on Twitter

It felt like we controlled the game from then on. Ricky Miller looks a fantastic signing and is quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite. He has won back to back social media man of the match awards for his two starts so far. We look a dramatically better side with him in the team.

The sponsors man of the match, Daryl Healy, grabbed our second of the game with just under 25 minutes to go. Jack Cook knocked a ball forward from just in front of the tunnel area and after a miscommunication between Mickie Allen and Blair Tolmie allowing the ball to bounce, Healy beat ‘keeper Blair Carswell to head into the empty net from the edge of the box.

Dean Hoskins was harshly sent off late on for Spartans and Barr had an effort that came back from his namesake but the ‘Gers saw out the remaining time with minimal fuss. Regardless of the competition, the monkey is off our back and we have recorded our first win since March. Not since November have we been able to celebrate a Saturday night with a win. Here’s hoping we kick on from here and get some points on board in the league after the cup game with Newtongrange Star on Saturday. The team is beginning to gel and we still have some big players to come back into the side. The signs are good and there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Amazing what a win can do!

I’ll be missing the next couple of games (Newtongrange on Saturday and Edinburgh University a week on Tuesday) as I’m off to Tunisia for a week. I’ll be back just in time for the visit of Civil Service Strollers on 31st August.

Out with the cup

I only made it to two of the Betfred cup games this year (Ayr at home and Livingston away). I was at a wedding which prevented me from attending the game away at Stranraer and my dad had a serious motorbike accident last Tuesday on the A1 heading past Belford. Thankfully, he is recovering in hospital and is hoping to be out this week. He has several broken bones and a punctured lung so it’s unlikely we will be seeing him in the Ducket anytime soon!

I’m torn in my feelings about the cup campaign and the benefit it has. Most teams haven’t finished assembling squads and will still want to be taking a look at potential signings and triallists which they are unable to play during the campaign.

On the flip side, it gives you an opportunity to come up against some of the best players in the country and potentially make a little bit of extra money with bigger crowds. I like the concept, but it does nothing for building confidence. This is something that we desperately need.

I’ve been really impressed with the fight and endeavour that the lads have shown in the two games I’ve seen so far. I could see improvements with our shape and ball retention in the Livingston game than when we played Ayr, especially in the second half. We’ve came across some quality teams and been punished for some poor defending at times. But, we have basically put together a full new team and it was always going to take time for them to bed in. This is made all the more difficult when you are playing teams at a much higher level.

Overall, I’m glad the cup is out of the way and we can now focus on the league, starting tomorrow at home to Bonnyrigg. They had a good win on Saturday and will be full of confidence heading down to Shielfield. It’ll be good to see some of the old faces amongst the Bonnyrigg set up.

I’m optimistic about the season ahead but I realise it is going to be tough and highly competitive. Some of the results on Saturday from the expected frontrunners shows you that. Hoping for us to end our goal drought and get off on a positive foot. Black and gold army!

Yano returns

The club have released a statement this evening advising that Ian Little would be taking over first team duties for the new season. The full statement can be found here:

The statement also advises that John Brownlie would be staying on in an advisory capacity. The pair took over from Johnny Harvey following a 3-0 defeat by Albion Rovers in the ‘Gers final home league game of the season. They oversaw a 2-0 defeat away to Elgin City and the 7-0 aggregate relegation playoff defeat with Cove Rangers albeit with Brownlie at the helm and Little assisting.

Yano made 164 appearances for Berwick, scoring 24 goals between 2004 and 2012. He has previously managed the club before (2011 -2014), taking charge of 88 games during this time. He is the last manager to lead Berwick into the promotion play offs, this was following a fourth placed finish in 2012/2013 where the ‘Gers were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by eventual winners East Fife from the league above in the semi final.

The statement itself is a welcome one. There has been very little communication from the club since our relegation into the Lowland League. Following which, the Supporters club released this statement:

At least for now, we know who will be in charge of the playing staff come the start of the season. We have been drawn alongside Ayr, Stranraer, Livingston and Falkirk for the Betfred Cup but await details on fixture dates and also preseason friendlies. There has been no announcement made on player retention or recruitment as yet.

From reviewing Twitter this week, it would appear Declan O’Kane has left to rejoin Musselburgh Athletic and Craig Hume has also moved on. Ryan Goodfellow, who spent the latter part of the season on loan at Berwick, has signed a pre contract with Ablion Rovers, moving from Cowdenbeath on June 1st. Dougie Brydon has also been confirmed as returning to Duns.

The Journey Begins

Welcome to the site! My name is Adam and I follow Berwick Rangers. After what has been a disastrous season culminating with the club losing their league status, I’ve decided to start the documenting of the trials and tribulations of following the Black and Gold. Check back soon for updates!