EARLY LEARNING CENTRE
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
SCOTTISH LOWLAND LEAGUE SATURDAY 3 AUGUST 2019
BERWICK RANGERS 1 UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING 2
Another glorious Summer Saturday saw Shielfield play host to the University of Stirling for our second home Lowland League game of the season. Hopes were high following an encouraging performance in the midweek defeat to Bonnyrigg. There was an air of condescension around the ground as we prepared to meet a bunch of 'students', this was to pay little heed to the fact that they have a pretty good record in the league and had themselves pushed Civil Service Strollers close in midweek. I'll confess to a sense of trepidation, we have form in blowing it when we expect to do well. I'm assuming this over confidence hadn't carried over into the dressing room and that players and staff were well aware of the threat posed.
We entered the ground to discover half the pitch seeming to be covered in the plumage of an eviscerated seagull or possibly pigeon in what may have been some black magic ritual carried out to get us a win. Manager Ian Little had looked to more traditional methods, Chris Gray out of the squad completely and Ali Forster on the bench. Ciaren Chalmers was back in the squad and started on the bench. Meanwhile starts were handed to Gary Windrum and Dan Purves.
Starting with four at the back, 2 up front and 2 wide men this looked a positive attacking move. Unfortunately it left us woefully short in midfield. After a relatively quiet and even start it became obvious that UOS were a well organised side who were going to compete well and create chances. With the home crowd starting to get a bit frustrated by the performance on the pitch things were to take a marked turn for the worse on 20 minutes when Jason Jarvis alone in space 20 odd yards out had a loose ball drop perfectly for him to volley home superbly.
The goal epitomised the Berwick performance - slow at clearing our lines and undermanned in midfield. The half progressed without us really creating a chance to speak of. Our passing was slow and deliberate frequently going along the line before ending up with Brennan, realising this UOS were quick pushing up on the back four forcing them back. When we did get the ball wide Windrum and Purves got the odd run in but the end product was great. Rose and Healy were proving incapable of holding the ball up or winning aerial challenges.
The use of two wide men was proving a mistake as we were continually failing to pick up the loose balls. Little shook things up at half-time taking off Purves, bringing on Chalmers and switching to three at the back. I thought this was better and we had a lot of possession but UOS remained dangerous on the break and could easily have added to their goal tally from a couple of good chances.
About 20 minutes into the second half Yaw Osei made his appearance replacing the ineffective Healy. Immediately he seemed to galvanise things and the pressure increased, he give us more energy and movement up front (though I'm not convinced he is fully fit). Only a matter of minutes on the pitch and he managed to create space for what was pretty much our first shot cracking it off the woodwork (I think post, some think post/bar and other think bar - so we'll go with top corner). On 78 minutes he picked the ball up made some space and got a decent cross in for Grant Rose to, ahem, rise and nod past the keeper.
It looked like a get out of jail card and there was even hope that we might go on and snatch an undeserved winner. Hope that would last barely four minutes. UOS didn't sit back happy for a draw and continued to press. On 82 minutes that pressure would pay off. We failed to clear a corner on our left and the referee adjudged someone to have handled the ball (under new rules I presume) and awarded a penalty to the fury of the home fans, I genuinely couldn't tell and with the rules as they are I wouldn't be surprised if there was a touch. We're going to see a lot of these this season and possibly at both ends if we can manage to get the ball into the box. Craig Brown stepped up and comfortably slotted it home (that'll teach me to make a joke referencing his granddad in my preview). We huffed and puffed for the remainder of the game to no avail.
There's no doubt this is a hugely disappointing result with the online reaction being much as you would expect. It's certainly a huge wake up call to the reality of life in the Lowland. UOS were not a great team and will be far from our hardest opponents this season. What they are though is a well organised team where each player knows his role and what is expected and they work within their system. This should have been a game where Little's style of play may have worked, UOS did not have the physical threat that Bonnyrigg had on Tuesday and to a certain extent allowed us time on the ball. The problem was the passing was laboured, deliberate and predictable making it easy for UOS to push up and pressurise limiting the out balls. I'm not one of those who advocate just booting it forward especially at the moment. Neither Rose nor Healy are holding the ball up well enough and no-one from midfield is getting forward to pick up what knock downs there are meaning the ball just comes straight back at us. I don't see them working as a partnership, I feel they are too similar; one of them with Osei may be the answer. We also need to get the defence sorted out as we are constantly putting ourselves under pressure. I thought we looked better after half-time when we switched to three at the back with Chalmers at the centre and hopefully this will be the start of a decent run in the team for him.
In my view it's time to get a couple of loans in at the very least but in going into the loan market we need to look at some more experienced heads. There is ability in the young lads we have but they need someone on the pitch who's a bit more game smart, maybe even a bit more nasty, someone who will put themselves about and impose themselves on the opposition. I'd be looking for a striker and a central midfielder with that type of attitude.
BERWICK RANGERS: Sean Brennan, Ali Smith, Ciaran Brian, Jack Cook, Kevin Waugh, Lewis Barr, Gary Windram, Cammy Lumsden (Ali Forster 70m), Daryl Healy (Yaw Osei 65m), Grant Rose, Dan Purves (Ciaren Chalmers 46m)
Subs not used: Kieran Jack, Ryan Kidd
UNIVERSITY OF STIRLING: Kevin Walker, Matthew Burrows, Alex Webb, Angus Mailer, Callum Downie, James Berry, Craig Brown, Jason Jarvis, Kieran Hall (Calum Heath 62m), Robbie McGale, Euan Baird (Callum Bremner 76m)
Subs not used: Aiden Peden, Conar Doan, Louis Kennedy, Trialist, John Allan
GOALS: Jason Jarvis 20m (UOS)
Grant Rose 78m (BER)
Craig Brown 82m (UOS)
BOOKINGS: Lewis Barr
Referee: Michael Addy
Assistant Referee: Andrew Rooney
Assistant Referee: Raymond Hume