Match Report by Theo Kyriacou
Stalemate at Gayfield
Ladbrokes SPFL League 2
Arbroath 1-1 Berwick Rangers
Scott (58) Thomson (68)
Arbroath hosted Berwick Rangers on Matchday one of the Ladbrokes SPFL League 2. Arbroath came into the match on the back of a resounding 3-0 win away at Invernesses U-20’s in the Irn Bru Cup in midweek, whereas Berwick were knocked out of the cup after losing 3-0 at home to The Spartans. Many pundits and experts had tipped Dick Campbell’s men as play-off contenders for this season. Berwick however, were tipped to be a mid-table team. But of course, after unfashionable Leicester City won the Barclays Premier League last season, anything is possible in Football!
Arbroath set up in a 3-1-4-2 formation . The impressive Robbie Mutch started in goal for Arbroath. The three Centre-backs were Colin Hamilton, who played as a left Centre-back, Michael Dunlop who played in the centre and Ricky Little who was the right-sided Centre-back. Captain Mark Whatley was deployed in front of the back three as a Central Defensive Midfielder. Martin Scott and Ryan McCord played together in central midfield and they were supported by the mercurial Bobby Linn on the left-wing and Omar Kader on the right-wing. Bryan Prunty partnered Steven Doris up front.
Arbroath named 6 substitutes: Gavin Malin, David Gold, Liam Callaghan, Gary Phillips, Kane Hester and Ricky Gomes.
Arbroath started the match very well and in the first minute, Linn who constantly tormented the Berwick defence all half, had a shot deflected over the bar and out for a corner to Arbroath. Linn had started the game as if he had a point to prove. Arbroath kept up the pressure and, after a slick passing move, they won a corner which was taken by McCord and headed over the bar, via a deflection, from Dunlop.
However, Berwick gradually started to get a foothold on the game. Thomson managed to get into a promising position in the box. However, when the cross came to him, he fluffed his shot and it was cleared by the Arbroath defence.
Arbroath then had a counter-attack through Linn, who managed to get into the box and fire a menacing cross towards goal, but the ball fell to a Berwick player who managed to clear the ball and the subsequent danger.
In the 17th minute of the game, Arbroath squandered a golden opportunity. Ryan McCord sent a sensational cross-field pass to the impressive Linn, who won a corner for Arbroath. McCord took the corner which was met in the air by Dunlop. Dunlop, who had a free-header and the goal gaping, headed the ball over the bar. A golden opportunity wasted for Arbroath.
Arbroath though, were all over Berwick. Scott dispossessed McKinlay on the edge of the box and crossed the ball towards Prunty, who hit the ball just over the bar with a volley. McCord then hit a freekick just over the bar.
Even though Arbroath were having all the ball and the chances, you could still sense the fact that Berwick were going to create a chance or two, and that’s exactly what they did. Lavery had a shot deflected over for a corner. From the resulting corner, captain Fairbairn had a header cleared off the line by Scott. Berwick do look very dangerous from corners and a team who will score a lot of goals from set-pieces this season.
Arbroath were still the much more dominant side. After good hold-up play by Kader, the winger played a one-two with Prunty, before he crossed the ball towards Scott who had his looping header cleared off the line by Fairbairn. Doris is then almost played in one-on-one with Walker, following a great defence-splitting pass from Whatley, but takes a heavy touch and the ball is easily gathered up by Walker.
Half Time – Arbroath 0-0 Berwick Rangers
Arbroath started the Second Half in similar fashion to the First Half. Linn, who had tormented Berwick’s Right-back Lee Hamilton throughout the First-Half, beat Hamilton, cut inside but hit a weak shot wide of the goal. Prunty then fired a volley wide of the mark.
The game desperately needed a goal and in the 57th minute, the goal arrived. Mark Whatley’s shot was deflected towards Linn at the back post. Linn cut inside and hit a shot towards goal, but his shot is well-saved by Walker. However, the ball is not cleared and it breaks out to Martin Scott who rifles the ball home and into the top-left hand corner. Arbroath deservedly lead 1-0.
The goal though, seemed to wake-up Berwick, who had been pretty poor. McKinlay had a shot fired wide and, much to the crowds amusement, the ball was stuck in the roof of the stand. However, this was a warning sign to Arbroath that Berwick were not going to lie-down easily.
Berwick kept on pressing forward and they were perhaps unfortunate to not be awarded a penalty by Referee Scott Millar. Little, who was trying to shepherd the ball out of play, was dispossessed by Thomson. However, before Thomson could get to the ball and on a one-on-one with Mutch, he was seemingly pulled back by Little. However, no penalty was awarded and Arbroath managed to clear the ball away.
Berwick were having all the possession and it was almost inevitable that they were going to equalise. In the 68th minute, Lavery played a magnificent through-ball to Thomson, who sprung the offside trap and cooly slotted the ball passed Mutch in the Arbroath goal. Thomson, who was lively throughout the game for Berwick and by far Berwick’s best player, took his goal very well. Arbroath 1-1 Berwick Rangers.
Berwick made a substitution as Graeme Beveridge came on to replace Steven Notman.
Arbroath, who ever since scoring, had been out-played by Berwick, came back into life. Kader ran at Berwick’s defence and his cross was cleared for a corner. From the subsequent corner, Linn had a shot deflected over by his own teammate Hamilton for a goal-kick to Berwick.
Berwick, who had been by far the better team in the Second Half, carved out a golden opportunity to win the match. Lavery, who received the ball on the edge of the area following Hamilton’s clearance from a corner, had a shot blocked and cleared. If Lavery had of hit his shot a little higher it would’ve been a certain goal for Berwick.
Arbroath made a double substitution. Gold and Hester replaced the ineffective Doris and Prunty.
Hester, who was very lively when he came on, had a header tipped over the bar from Hamilton’s cross for a corner. From the resulting McCord corner, Dunlop had a volley deflected wide.
Full-Time – Arbroath 1-1 Berwick Rangers
Overall, a draw was a fair result. Arbroath were the better team in the First-Half, whereas Berwick were the better team in the Second-Half. Arbroath did look solid defensively, however they lack a bit of creativity and a bit of a spark in midfield. However, Arbroath can take plenty of positives from today’s performance going into next weeks Angus Derby away at Montrose.
Man of the Match: Arbroath’s Martin Scott. Scott worked tirelessly throughout the whole game, making many good tackles and interceptions. He also showed a very good range of passing and took his goal very well. Scott looks like a very good acquisition by Dick Campbell to Arbroath’s team.
1. Robbie Mutch – 6
2. Mark Whatley (C) – 6
3. Colin Hamilton – 7
4. Michael Dunlop – 6
5. Ricky Little – 7
6. Martin Scott – 9
7. Omar Kader – 5
8. Ryan McCord – 7
9. Steven Doris – 5 (Gold 83)
10. Bryan Prunty – 6 (Hester 83)
11- Bobby Linn – 8
12. Gavin Malin
14. David Gold – 6
15. Liam Callaghan
16. Gary Phillips
17. Kane Hester – 7
21. Ricky Gomes
1. Kevin Walker – 7
2. Lee Hamilton – 5
3. Kevin McKinlay – 5
4. Scott Notman – 6 (Beveridge 73)
5. Brian Martin – 6
6. Johnny Fairbairn (C) – 7
7. Steven Thomson – 8
8. Ben Stirling – 6
9. Alan Walker – 6
10. Darren Lavery – 7
11. Jordyn Sheerin – 6
12. Robert Wilson
13. Barry Hogg
14. Euan Bald
15. Jordan Orru
16. Graeme Beveridge – 7
20. Sean Brennan