Arbroath claim first point of the season against Berwick

Photo - Graham H Black.
Photo - Graham H Black.

Arbroath got their first point on the board after they made the six-hour round trip down the east coast to Berwick-upon-Tweed on Saturday.

The market town was warm and sunny with many locals taking advantage of the Berwick Rangers Supporter’s Trust initiative of free entry.

Perhaps the Lichties weren’t expecting the Gayfield wind to have followed them to England as a blustery wind blew over the exposed pitch in the middle of the speedway circuit.

There was a return for captain Mark Whatley, but Bobby Linn missed his first ever league game for the Lichties as he welcomed a new daughter in the early hours of Saturday.

It was on loan Rangers starlet Darren Ramsay who was to take over Linn’s number seven shirt.

The wee Rangers took advantage of the wind at their backs with an early corner in the third minute.

The ball was whipped into a crowd box and as several players tumbled at the front post it allowed an unmarked Darren Lavery to head into the net.

It was yet another goal lost in the opening exchanges, but more worrying for the Lichties was just how easy it was for Lavery.

Arbroath weren’t finished being generous and despite some good attacking play a strong pass put Craig Johnstone under pressure.

Blair Henderson’s harassment paid off as Johnstone’s pass was blocked allowing Henderson to run down the wing before looking up to find Michael McKenna, who dinked around three Arbroath defenders before finding the far corner of Allan Fleming’s goal to double their lead within 15 minutes.

The Lichties to their credit hit back immediately.

Jordan Lowdon skipped past three challenges running across the field before finding Ramsay who took a touch and played a sublime pass over several Berwick players to find Andy Ryan, who let the ball pass his body before shooting past Kevin Walker with his left foot.

Timing was everything as it came just two minutes on the back of McKenna’s goal.

Martin Grehan thought he had netted the equaliser after outwitting Jonny Fairbairn but the stand side linesman had flagged for offside cruelly as it looked like Fairbairn made contact with the ball first before Grehan’s shot.

The Lichties had enjoyed most of the possession in the second half but just couldn’t find the net however substitute Joao Victoria gave the 30 diehard Arbroath supporters some hope as he hypnotised the defenders with his very quick feet.

With only two minutes remaining substitute Jamie Reid and Johnstone combined down the left before Johnstone lofted a ball high into the Berwick box.

Grehan beat Fairbairn to the ball and he nodded down directly into the path of Ramsay who volleyed past Walker to draw the Lichties level.

There was to be one final chance as Ricky Little broke down the right before finding Victoria, he played in Reid who curled in from the edge of the 18 yard box but his effort was just a few inches on the wrong side of Walker’s post.

The referee blew his whistle and the Lichties had won their first point.

Despite the damage being self-inflicted, the team showed fight and character which itself was a big step forward.

If they remain buoyed on spirit and cut out the gifts, then the wins will start to come.

Berwick Rangers: Walker, McNeil, Beveridge, F Graham, Ainslie, Fairbairn, Coultress (F Graham, 60), Cameron (Banjo, 76 - Morris, 84), Henderson, Lavery, McKenna.

Arbroath: Fleming, Wilson (Victoria, 82), Johnstone, Munro, Little, Whatley, Ramsay, Gold (Clarke, 70), Grehan, Ryan, Lowdon (Reid, 64).