Updated: Nov 20, 2019
SCOTTISH LOWLAND LEAGUE
SATURDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2019
BERWICK RANGERS 4 VALE OF LEITHEN 0
After the postponement of the midweek match against BSC due to a waterlogged pitch there as a slight concern that this game would go ahead given the amount of rain that had fallen during the week. This was not helped by Saturday dawning wet and driving through some heavy showers on the way to the match. However, the pitch passed a 9am precautionary inspection and on arrival the pitch looked in good condition despite the leaden grey skies and the continuing rain showers.
Vale arrived firmly rooted to the bottom of the league and looking for a win to get them back in touch with the pack above them and looking to keep us stuck in the battle at the bottom. For the Dream Team this seemed an opportunity to put a bit of daylight between ourselves and the bottom three.
The team news saw Daryl Healy back up front with Grant Rose dropping to the bench while Ciaren Chalmers stepped into midfield with Lewis Barr joining Rose on the bench.
The plans suffered an early setback when Healy had to go off after only five minutes follwoing what seemed like an innocuous challenge. Osei came on in his place and Dan Purves switched over to the right hand side. Vale came close early on when Paul Thomson easily found space in the box to get in the end of a free kick from their left and flashed a header just wide. That frankly was that for the next forty minutes of a truly dismal first half. The main excitement being Liam Ireland's desperate attempts to get himself sent off as quickly as possible - committing two fouls in quick succession. With half time looming, and the mood on the terrace beginning to reflect the surrounding skies, another aimless ball into the box was half cleared by Vale out of the box and a clumsy (some would say pointless) challenge from behind on Balde saw a penalty awarded. Cult hero Ricky Miller stepped up confidently and sidefooted the ball home in the bottom left corner, just beating the despairing dive of Vale keeper Gilpin (the penalty looks far more confident on the video than it did it the time - I think we were all expecting Ricky to blast it). The penalty saved the team departing to a chorus of boos after what had been a laboured first half performance against visitors who showed little interest in getting forward and who produced more than the odd industrial challenge. The early loss of Healy and subsequent tactical change may have had an impact but that would be an easy get out for what was a disappointing effort. (The biggest surprise afterwards was that Alan Skelly found almost three minutes of video).
Whether it was the relief of the the goal or a real rocket from Haynes at half time the second half would be much better. After a couple of half chances we would get our second in the 51st minute with Osei breaking through between two defenders at the back post to get on the end of a superb cross from Ali Forster on the right. Chances started to come thick and fast and on another day Dan Purves would have had a hat trick showing some lovely touches and trickery on the ball but just lacking that final finish. There's no doubt Purves has become an integral part of the team, he offers something different and his willingness to take men on and run with the ball have been a real positive. A third goal duly arrived on 65 minutes when Ciaran Chalmers poked home from at least all of two inches after a Balde shot from just inside the box rattled of a few players still inside the six yard box for the preceding corner. The goal capped what was a decent performance from Chalmers in the middle of the park, his presence also seems to free Euan Smith a bit more and give him more time to pass create some forward momentum. Although at times he can take the easy sideways pass. With the game pretty much wrapped up we continued to dominate possession and create chances, the contrast with the first half being stark. The game as further livened up by the begloved Leithen subsitute Alistair Smith managing to get himself sent off after mouthing off too much when he picked up a booking for a challenge, at least it avoided any confusion over the two Ali Smiths. The game ended with a second Dream Team penalty in the fourth minute of injury time, I doubt anyone in the ground has any idea why the penalty was awarded and I can't see anything on the video either, I can only imagine the Vale man on the ground with the bloody nose has even less of a clue. Anyway, it was down to Ricky Miller to step up and hit his second penalty of the day, beating the keeper by even less this time. That was that and what was in the end a comfortable victory over poor opposition.
Ignoring the first half it was a decent performance with good performances from Balde, Purves, Forster, Chalmers in particular and a real leader's performance from Ricky Miller who has become a crowd favourite simply through his attitude on he pitch but also down his ability. It's easy to think he's just a big guy who blooters the ball but his long ball passing as much more subtle than that. Add in the no nonsense defending and his ability to organise those around him and he has been the signing of the season.
We now need to show what we showed in the second half for a whole game and against stronger opposition and there's no better time to start than next Saturday at one of the league's form teams and start climbing the table.
TEAMS: BERWICK RANGERS: Mark Walters, Ciaran Brian, Kevin Waugh, Greg Donald, Ricky Miller, Euan Smith (C), Dan Purves, Ali Forster, Daryl Healy, Ciaren Chalmers, Joao Balde
Subs not used: Cammy Lumsden, Jack Wright, Lewis Barr, Grant Rose, Yaw Osei, Ali Smith, Sean Brennan (GK)
VALE OF LEITHEN: Ross Gilpin, Calum Hall, Alex Imlah, Josh Wishart, Paul Thomson,
Gerrard Rossi (C), Robel Dent, Lewis Hall, Chris Anderson, Liam Ireland, Brad Rixon Subs not used: Ryan Higgins, Liall Smith, Calum O'Neill, Alistair Smith, Andrew McQueen (GK)
GOALS: Ricky Miller 43m (P); 90 + 4m (P)
Yaw Osei 51m
Ciaren Chalmers 65m
BOOKINGS: Kevin Waugh
SENT OFF: Alistair Smith (VOL)
Referee: Alex Shepherd
Assistant Referee: Scott Downie
Assistant Referee: Emma Hingant