Berwick Rangers FC vs Annan Athletic FC
This was by no means a classic match but importantly for Annan they did enough to lift the points to keep them in contention at the top half of the league but for Berwick it was a disappointing result which drags them perilously close to the danger zone and with the Borderers failure to score in their last five matches this would appear to be the major contributor to the position they now find themselves in.
Annan boss Peter Murphy was forced to make a couple of changes to his starting line up, latest signing Jamie Henry slotted into the centre of midfield for the injured Owen Moxon and Connor O’Keefe taking up the wide left role vacated by Brandon Luke who has returned back to Dunfermline Athletic following his loan spell with the Galabankies. On loan Development League signings Ben Armour the centre forward from Morton and Evan Horne from St Mirren taking their places on the substitutes bench. Berwick also made changes with new striker Ousman See and midfield player Declan O’Kane going straight into the starting line up.
It was a game very much of 2 halves with the wind playing its part, Berwick playing down the slope and with the elements in their favour in the first half were the team who had the majority of possession with Annan being more dangerous in the second period.
The game swung in Annan’s favour in the second half after a goalless first half when Annan got the important opening goal after Blair Henderson picked up a Ben Armour pass in the 68th minute to sweep the ball low and hard past on loan Rangers keeper Robbie McCorrie from 10 yards to give Annan the vital advantage in the game.
Goal scoring opportunities were few and far between in the first half with both defences limiting their opposite attacks. The nearest Annan came to scoring occurred in the 16th minute when a well worked move from a Rabin Omar corner picked out Dan Orsi who’s low shot from the edge of the box was cleared off the goal line by Steven Notman. It was a rare scoring opportunity in the first half for Annan who had goalkeeper Alex Mitchell to thank when he made an important save tipping over the bar Gary Phillips 20 yarder in the 31st minute. This apart there were no other clear cut scoring opportunities in a first half which was starved of goal scoring opportunities and dominated by both defences.
Berwick started the second half brightly with Annan full back James Creaney diverting a Berwick effort past for a corner and from the resulting corner Annan managed to defend the melee that ensued it was however the closest that Berwick came to scoring as Annan started to impose their presence on the match. Rabin Omar’s speculative effort in the 61st minute went high and wide. Michael McKenna’s header was then tipped over the bar by Mitchell. Annan then broke the deadlock and scored the important opening goal when Ben Armour who had only been introduced minutes previously set up Henderson who’s clinical finish turned the game in Annan’s favour.
Aidan Smith secured the points for Annan in the 88th minute when he clinically dispatched the ball into the net from 16 yards after Declan O’Kane was disposed in the middle of the park by Evan Horne who released the ball into the path of Smith who’s well directed shot gave the keeper no chance.
Robbie Hogg was introduced late on for his second first team experience replacing the injured Rabin Omar.
Berwick Rangers –Robbie McCorie, Oliver Fleming (Aaron Murrell 75 min), Stephen Notman ,Kevin McKinlay, Stephen Thomson ( Paul Simpson 84 min), Michael McKenna , Gary Phillips, Kieran Stewart, Declan O’Kane, Robert Wison, Ousman See (Darren Lavery 81 min) . Subs not used Jonny Fairburn, Jack Cook, Chris Macdonald, Sean Brennan GK.
Annan Athletic- Alex Mitchell, Scot Hooper, James Creaney, Peter Watson, Steven Swinglehurst, Jamie henry, Daniel Orsi (Evan Home 82 min) ,Rabin Omar ( 90 + 3), Aiden Smith, Blair Henderson, Connor O’Keefe ( Ben Armour 65 min). Subs not used Jim Atkinson, Ayrton Sonkur, Sean Bell, Peter Murphy.
Referee – Euan AndersonAssistants – Gavin Harris and Craig Wilson.
Montrose and Peterhead maintained their push for the title with Montrose picking up the points with a two nil victory over Edinburgh City and Peterhead defeating Stirling Albion 4-3 at home. Elgin City scored late on to defeat Cowdenbeath 1-0 who had a man sent off in the 45th minute . Clyde’s miserable season continued with Stenhousemuir keeping their play off aspirations alive with a convincing 3 goal victory.
Next week Annan do not have a fixture as the scheduled match at home to Peterhead is cancelled due to Peterhead playing Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup. This match will be played midweek on a date still to be arranged. This gives the teams an opportunity to catch up on Annan who have played more games than the rest of the teams.