Updated: Nov 18, 2019
SCOTTISH LOWLAND LEAGUE
SATURDAY 26 OCTOBER 2019
BERWICK RANGERS 3 DALBEATTIE STAR 0
The sun beat down on Shielfield Park again as Dalbeattie Star visited for the first time on Saturday for the final game of British Summer Time. The hope being that the Dream Team may finally a get a home league win before Summer bid farewell.
The morning had seen the announcement of the loan signing of 18 year old Gregor Donald on loan from Livingston and he went straight into the team in a rejigged backline with Jack Cook missing (injured according to official sources but SFA website has him down for immediate League game suspension after sending off against BFKH so we'll go for that). Donald came in at left back and Rose replaced the holidaying Healy.
Dalbeattie arrived on the back of a mixed start to the season but with a 3 - 0 away win at University of Stirling and a chaotic 5 - 5 draw with Caley Braves suggested they possessed a goal scoring threat, always a worry when a settled defence has been shuffled.
A turgid first half saw a few half chances at both ends but with neither goalkeeper being especially tested. A long hold up in the first half following a head injury to a Dalbeattie defender after a collision with Dan Purves in the box didn't help the game get any rhythm and led to Dalbeattie having to make a substitution. The game finally came to life five minutes from half time when Balde collected the ball on the left, cut in and beat a defender before unleashing a 25 yarder that crashed of the bar, the first moment of real quality in the half. In the fifth minute of injury time Purves picked up the ball on the edge of box turned inside his man and whipped a good cross in to be met by Rose on the edge of the six-yard box and his header came of the underside of the bar with Forster following up at the back post to put the rebound in.
The first half had been notable for the amount of space Donald was getting on the left but there were times when we were far too slow getting the ball out to him, he showed a decent turn of pace and got a few crosses in. He looked very much the modern version of a full back - good attacking promise but a risk if he lost the ball or his cross was intercepted, with a lot of space left behind him to be exploited by an attacking side. Fortunately Star were unable to do this and posed little hint of the team that had been scoring so freely away from home. Early on they had some decent breaks down our right which remains a cause for concern but they created no real goal scoring chances.
The 53rd minute saw Purves double our lead with another header at the back post (his second in recent home games). I don't think any of us expected Dan to be the aerial threat he is turning into. The chance was created by Balde picking up the ball on the left, shrugging of a poor challenge and playing it to Barr. Barr's curled shot was parried by the Star keeper straight onto the head of Purves standing in glorious isolation on the far side of the six yard box and he coolly nodded in at the near post over the scrambling goalkeeper.
With our track record in throwing away 2 - 0 leads there was still a slight air of apprehension hanging over the ground despite the fact Star did not look capable of getting back into the game.
Balde wrapped the game up in the 60th minute, getting the goal his overall play deserved. A great move down the right ended with Lewis Barr breaking into the box and getting the ball away to Rose who unselfishly stabbed the ball through to Balde who was standing all on his own on the edge of the box and who had the easiest of tasks to slip the ball home as the keeper had committed to closing down a Rose shot that never came.
It was a case of seeing the game out after that. Rose had a decent long range effort parried over the bar, Smith came close with a header and there were a few other chances, at the other end Star had a succession of corners but failed to make anything of them. And so we finally had a home league victory this season and one we can hopefully take some confidence from albeit that it was against a very disappointing Star side who didn't have much to offer on the day.
This was a reasonably solid performance with some decent play at times. I did feel that we were far too pedestrian in the first half especially, too often players required two or even three touches before moving the ball on. This was especially frustrating as Donald was in acres of space at times and a first time ball would have opened up Star, instead they were given time to get men back and reduce the options for when the ball finally made its way out to the left. To use one of the modern footballing buzzwords we need to improve the speed of transition from defence to attack. Balde gradually exerted his influence on the game and was clearly the most creative player on the pitch and the one most capable of making something happen and was for me man of the match. That's not to denigrate the performance of Ali Forster especially who won sponsors man of the match and who had a very good game.
Finally a word on Grant Rose - it's fair to say he has yet to win the support over but on Saturday showed some touches that indicated why he is rated, he rose (ahem) well for the header that set up the first goal and was unlucky not to score, showed superb awareness and intelligence in setting up Balde, had a decent long range effort and showed a couple of decent bits of skill. What we need to see now is this more regularly and against better opposition.
TEAMS: BERWICK RANGERS: Mark Walters, Ciaran Brian, Kevin Waugh, Gregor Donald, Ricky Miller (Gary Windram), Euan Smith (C), Ali Forster, Lewis Barr (Jack Wright), Dan Purves, Joao Balde, Grant Rose (Yaw Osei)
Subs not used: Gary Windram, Cammy Lumsden, Jack Wright, Yaw Osei, Ali Smith, Kieran Jack, Sean Brennan (GK)
Subs not used:
GOALS: Ali Forster (45m + 5m)
Dan Purves (53m)
Joao Balde (60m)