Annan vs Berwick
Annan Athletic finally got a victory on the board against a very competent Berwick Rangers team at a sun drenched Galabank on Saturday. Berwick boss Colin Cameron was hampered in his team selection by suspensions but the way they set about their business in the first half was a credit to his re-shuffled pack as they totally controlled the opening 45 minutes . The Annan defence were under constant pressure but for the first time this season the defence which had been leaking goals leading up to this match never buckled and provided the foundation for a much improved second half.
Almost from the opening whistle it was Berwick who dominated the play with their neat passing game leaving Annan at times chasing shadows and very much playing second fiddle to a Berwick side who were very much pulling the strings in the middle of the park through player manager Colin Cameron. Alex Mitchell in the Annan goal had to deal with shots from Notman, Dalziel and a 25 yard effort form Hoskins in the opening 15 minutes. Berwick had the ball in the net in the 20th minute but the goal was correctly chalked offside.
Annan’s first real effort went sailing over the bar in the 24th minute when Hopkirk’s shot was way too high. Stuart McColm, Annan’s recent signing from Clyde made his debut and his cross in the 26th minute was well intended but there was no-one at hand to latch on to the opportunity. Most of the action was in the Annan half and Mitchell had to be alert to deal with a Dalziel effort and minutes later Mitchell was once again Annan’s saviour as he turned a Paul Willis effort round the post. Stephen Black then made an important block challenge to deny David Gold as the visitors went all out to score.
Annan had scarcely provided a threat but in the 31st minute on a rare excursion into the Berwick half , MacKay broke down the left and slipped the ball into the feet of David Hopkirk who homed in on goal but his tame effort never tested the Berwick keeper. It was without doubt the best scoring opportunity of the half. Darren Lavery’s shot slipped past the upright and as the game edges towards half time Lavery and Hoskins both had efforts which failed to hit the target.
Berwick started the second half where they left on in the first with their neat controlled football pinning Annan back into defensive mode and it took a stunning save from Mitchell in the 46th minute to deny Dalziel. The save appeared to galvanise the lethargic Annan team and in the 51st minute they broke down the left with Kenny MacKay sending in a glorious cross to the near post and somehow Josh Todd scooped the ball over the bar from 2 yards. A series of substitutions took place for both teams before Annan took the lead through recent signing Stuart McColm , the lead up to the goal was good with Hopkirk, Chisholm, Sloan and Flynn all combining to set up McColm who’s stunning strike form 15 yards flew into the top corner of the net .
You could sense the momentum of the game tilting away from Berwick in Annan’s favour and three minutes later Annan struck again , Hopkirk finished a darting run down the left with a superb back post cross which was perfectly placed for Kenny Mackay to head into the net form 1 yard. The game had swung dramatically in Annan’s favour and all of a sudden they were creating goal scoring opportunities. Hopkirk had a great effort in the 71st minute which swerved past the upright and in the 75th minute the Hopkirk/MacKay combination tore a hole in the beleaguered Berwick defence but MacKay disappointingly blasted over the bar.
The closing minutes provided action at both ends but there was no more scoring .
ANNAN ATHLETIC: Alex Mitchell, Steven Black, Ian Chisholm, Martin McNiff, Peter Watson, Ryan McStay (S Sloan 61 min), Josh Todd (Ramine Omar 90 min), Matty Flynn ,Kenny Mackay , David Hopkirk, Stuart McColm (D Carcary 80 min). SUBS NOT USED: Steven Logan, Dan Wood, Gary Black, Trialist.
Goal Scorers- McColm (64), Mackay (67)
BERWICK RANGERS : Michael Andrews, Steven Notman, Dean Hoskins (Devon Jacobs 55min), Colin Cameron (Jonny Fairburn 61 min), Kerr Young, Stephen Tulloch, Paul Willis, David Gold, Darren Lavery, Scott Dalziel, Scott Maxwell (Craig Dargo 67 min). Substitutes Not used Andrew Russell, William Bald GK, Paul Currie.
REFEREE: Gavin Duncan. Assistants Stuart Hodge and Paul O’neil