Bewick Rangers 2 Montrose 2
At this stage of the season all fixtures are tricky as each club strives to finish on a high note. This away game at Berwick was no exception and in the end Montrose came away with a point following a display which did not see them at their best especially in the second half. Manager Stewart Petrie opted for the same starting eleven as last week away at Elgin so it was Fleming in goal with a back four of Masson, Dillon, Bolochowecjkyj and Steeves. In midfield were Watson, Callaghan, Webster and Redman with Fraser and Templeman up front. There were two changes on the bench however with Danny Cavanagh and Lewis Milne replacing Craig Johnston and Martyn Fotheringham. Berwick are a much changed side this season as Manager Robbie Horn has replaced many of the previously well known Berwick players. Referee for the day was Craig Charleston.
Montrose started the game by kicking downhill with a moderate wind at their backs on a pitch surface which appeared to be better than the long wet muddy surface sometimes found at Shielfield Park. The opening spell provided little at either end until Graham Webster burst forward and his cross was only just missed by the onrushing Gary Fraser. Cue Hamish Brannan to commence his non-stop Mo singing in his usual style. That spell of pressure (and Hamish) resulted in the first goal of the game in the 8th minute as GARY FRASER got on to the end of an Andy Steeves cross to prod it home at the near post from close range. It was given as an own goal but Fraser did look to have got the telling touch. Berwick responded and Paul Willis might have done better as he weaved his way to and along the goal-line before the Mo defence crowded him out and snuffed out the danger. The next two attacks involved the same two players as Fraser tried and failed to beat the offside trap and Willis at the other end was thwarted by excellent covering by Liam Callaghan.
Disaster struck for Montrose in the 23rd minute when a long ball forward held up in the wind and both keeper Fleming and a defender hesitated long enough to allow OUSMAN SEE to nip in and prod it home to make it 1-1. It was a sloppy goal to give away. So, back to the drawing board for Montrose who then won two successive corners both of which did not get past the first defender and were easily cleared. Graham Webster was yellow carded for simulation in midfield when it looked a clear trip and was nowhere near the penalty area. Fraser almost scored again when he got on the end of another Steeves cross only to see his goal bound effort tipped on to the crossbar, rebound onto the goalkeeper and narrowly drift wide. It was not long before GARY FRASER did strike again however as he chased down a long clearance and guided the ball past keeper McCrorie to put the Mo 2-1 up almost on half-time.
The second half had Montrose kicking uphill and against the wind and a great Callaghan free kick found Templeman whose header flashed just wide of the target. At this stage of the game Montrose were in the ascendancy with Jamie Redman outstanding in midfield but Berwick had the wind now and several very tall players in their ranks. Danger threatened more than once as the long balls and crosses came in. It developed into a very ragged period of play by Montrose who badly lost their shape and their threat up front simply evaporated. It came as no surprise when Berwick equalised for the second time with another very avoidable goal. A needless free kick was given away wide left and was taken by PAUL WILLIS who hit a perfectly flighted effort over the heads of the Mo defence and it sailed effortlessly into the net unchallenged by anyone. At 2-2 just after the hour mark Montrose brought off Templeman and Callaghan with Milne and Rennie coming on. Berwick responded with a substitution of their own, Hamilton on with Thomson off. It was however Berwick who finished the game stronger as Fleming had to be alert more than once. Webster made way for McLaren and Milne tried his luck from 30 yards but it was Berwick who looked more likely to score in the closing stages as the Mo were under the cosh. Steeves won a free kick to relieve the pressure as Ousman See was booked for his efforts and not long after the final whistle ended a very scrappy period of play as far as Montrose were concerned.
At 2-2 it was points dropped for Montrose who could and should have pushed on when 2-1 up but you just can not give away sloppy goals as happened today. MOTM was Jamie Redman closely followed by Dillon and Watson although a special mention for Gary Fraser who looks to be getting back to his best though could do with a re-read of the offside rule!
Team Lineups & Stats
Saturday 24th February 2018
|7||Steven Thomson (s75)
||8||Paul Watson (c)
||7||Graham Webster (s75)
||19||Liam Callaghan (s67)
||10||Chris Templeman (s67)
||22||Connor McLaren (s75)
||23||Martin Rennie (s67)
|17||Jack Hamilton (s75)
||24||Lewis Milne (s67)
|20||Sean Brennan (GK)||1||Jordan Millar (GK)
Stephen Mitchell, Chris McTiernan
Berwick Rangers - Ouzy See (23), Paul Willis (63)
Montrose - Robert Wilson (8 og), Gary Fraser (43)
Berwick Rangers - Jamie Todd (5), Ouzy See (90)
Montrose - Graham Webster (31)