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Annan Athletic FC 3
Berwick Rangers 2
16th November 2013
Alex Mitchell,  ,  Martin McNiff,  Steven Swinglehurst,  Peter Watson,  Steven Sloan,  ,  David Hopkirk,  Josh Todd (Matthew Flynn, 82),  Scott Davidson (Kieran Brannan, 88),   (, 58),  
Gary Black,  ,  Steven Black,  

The Annan fans and manager are certainly being put through the ringer as they both endured a huge disappointment on Tuesday evening when Stenhousemuir scored a last minute goal that sent the William Hill Scottish Cup tie into extra time but on Saturday they experienced the reverse and the jubilation when Kieran Brannan came off the bench and scored a dramatic injury time goal to secure three points for the Galabankies in a thrilling encounter which keeps Annan pressing at the top of the league.

Annan boss Jim Chapman was forced to shuffle his team with Peter Weatherson and Kenny MacKay failing late fitness checks presenting a rare starting position for Scott Davidson and Peter Bradley making a return, slotting into the left back position in a re-arranged back four. Annan made a whirlwind start and inside a minute they forced a corner which Peter Watson only failed to connect with, five minutes later and Annan had scored the opening goal, when Bradley forced a corner down the left and Martin McNiff rose at the back post to connect with Andrew Mitchell’s corner to guide a header into the corner of the net, past the despairing dive of keeper Paul Grant.  It was an early blow to Berwick’s hopes but the visitors overcame this early set back to work themselves back into the game and it took a timely challenge by Watson on Lavery to alleviate a potentially dangerous situation in the 13th minute. Kenny O’Brien showed good skill to bring the ball down on the bye line to send in a dangerous inviting low cross but unfortunately there was no end product. Berwick made the breakthrough in the 40th minute and it was a goal that caught Annan on the back foot. A long free kick played behind the Annan defence caught them on the turn and Darren Lavery finished clinically from close range to square the match. Within two minutes Berwick Rangers went ahead, Annan were once again caught on the break when a swift move down the right by the overlapping Tulloch ended with a ball across the face of the goal and Darren Lavery  was once again in the right place at the right time to slide the ball into the net from close range. It was bitter pill for Annan to swallow who did not look in any real danger until their defensive frailties were once again brutally exposed. As the game edged towards half time Andrew Mitchell came close to squaring the game when his 30 yard free kick cannoned off the crossbar with keeper Paul Grant well beaten.

Berwick made a promising start to the second half and Kenny O’Brien had the ball in the net within a minute only for the effort to be chalked offside, it was an early warning for Annan.   Annan boss Jim Chapman made an early substitution as he shuffled the pack in an effort to add more of an attacking presence by introducing Ally Love for defender Peter Bradley. It proved to be a turning point in the game with Love adding a new attacking option to Annan’s formation, almost immediately Love released Hopkirk who’s curling effort went close. Annan’s persistence paid dividends and in the 67th minute they squared the match, it was a well constructed goal following a good patient build up on the right hand side of the park ending with Watson slipping the ball into the path of Scott Davidson who homed in on goal to finish with a low shot under the keeper, a fitting reward for Davidson’s input into the game. Annan continued to take the game to Berwick who brought on all three substitutes in an effort to stem the flow of a match that  was beginning to swing heavily in Annan’s favour. Love came close in the 85th minute when his hooked effort went narrowly over as Annan went in search of the winner.  Andy Mitchell’s free kick from the edge of the box went narrowly over the bar, but there was a final twist in the tail as the match entered time added on.  Annan  were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and like the previous one minutes before  Mitchell teed up the ball, this time his shot deflected off the wall and into the air and Keiran Brannan reacted quickest to head the ball into the net from 4 yards to seal the points .

Annan boss Jim Chapman commented “We started well, got ourselves into a good position and then started to complicate the game by conceding two goals when we switched off, fair play to Berwick they had five minutes where they pressed us and scored two goals their quick thinking once again exposed us defensively. We are naïve they are a good honest bunch of players but there is a side of the game where they have to learn the basics to slow the game down and give ourselves a chance to prepare. At the start of the second half we were sloppy and we were fortunate to get away with the offside goal.  Overall I think we deserved the victory but I just wondered if we would get it or not but we saw the true character of the team to fight back and keep at it right to the end. I was proud of them but I know there is a lot more to come from this group of players, however there is a side to our play which does concern me. We are scoring loads of goals but conceding too many goals and today you seen why”.

Annan Athletic – A Mitchell, S Sloan, M McNiff, A Mitchell, P Watson,  S Swinglehurst, J Todd (M Flynn 84 min)   , C Jardine , S Davidson, D Hopkirk , P Bradley (A Love 60 min). Substitutes not used G Anderson, S Black, G Black, J Moffat.

Berwick Rangers – P Grant, D Jacobs, D Hoskins, M Dunlop, S Tulloch, N Janczk,L Currie, S Notman, K O’Brein ( Dalzeil 75 min), D Lavery (D Gielty 80 min), R Gray (D Carse 83 min) Substitutes not used B Miller, G 0’Connor.

Referee     D Robertson                          Assistants  F Andrews and D Roome

Crowd 395

 
 
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