Lowland League | Blair pair of pens enough to beat Berwick in five goal thriller

Posted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

The Spartans made it six Lowland League victories on the bounce however they were made to work hard for their three points against a stubborn Berwick Rangers side who came a post-width away from an equaliser deep into second half injury time.

Sam Jones and Gregor Woods came into the starting line-up as Spartans Gaffer Dougie Samuel made a pair of swaps from Saturday’s victory over Caledonian Braves.  Ian McFarland rested due to a knock, whilst Michael Herd took up a spot on the bench.

The game kicked on in busy fashion for the home side against the men from beyond the border who were sporting their bright away jerseys in the colours of Northumbria.

An early Spartans corner was won by Mikey Allan who got on the end of Rhys Armstrong’s delivery but his header was narrowly wide. 

Then there was a half chance as Cammy Russell latched onto the ball after it evaded the leap from the defender however there was just too much gas on his pass for Blair Henderson to catch the ball in the box to connect.

Against the run of play, indeed, with their first real adventure beyond the halfway line, Berwick opened the scoring.  A cross low into the six yard box saw Cameron Graham and Blair Carswell collide as the ball hit the back of the net and the goal was awarded.  After treatment, both players were back on their feet for the restart.

Spartans rallied and were pressing at every opportunity for the equaliser.  A Mikey Allan header went narrowly wide then Blair Henderson was blocked just as he pulled the peg back to shoot from six yards.

The equaliser, as elusive as it seemed, came on the half hour mark.  A Cammy Russell long throw into the box caused some confusion, not only for the defence but also for identifying the scorer at the time!

The ball broke to Jamie Dishington deep inside the penalty area and his attempt may well have made it beyond the Berwick keeper however it was aided by the head of Rhys Armstrong who fortuitously got his napper in the road of the shot and it bounce off his bonce, outfoxed the goalie and trundled into the net. 

Spartans had a shout for a penalty after a Cammy Russell corner appeared to strike the arm of a Berwick defender in the middle of the eighteen yard area however despite the flailing of frustrated Spartans arms, Referee Alex Shepherd was not up for pointing to the spot.

The man in the middle though was left in little doubt a minute before the break when Rhys Armstrong went on a run from the half way line into the box and as he cut inside towards goal, he was brought to the ground.  Blair Henderson stepped up and calmly slotted home.

HT: Spartans 2-1 Berwick Rangers

Seasonal fireworks could be heard around North Edinburgh as the second half got under way however there was no sign of the Pilton Sniper as Lewis Barr fell down in the box as he and Mikey Allan awaited a Spartans corner.  Referee Shepherd pulled the players aside for a chat and note that he’d been keeping an eye out in future.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Bradley Whyte was booked for an aerial challenge that it’s fair to say he didn’t agree with and he was joined in this state of confusion by the home bench.

Play then made its way back into the Berwick box.  A corner for Spartans.  Yes, dear reader, you are one step ahead of your scribe in the ‘What happened next?’ quiz.

As the ball was swung in, the eagle eyed man in the middle – ok, it was hard to miss – saw Lewis Barr manhandle Mikey Allan on the edge of the six yard box and it was a second spot kick of the night for Blair Henderson to step up and send home with consummate ease.

A two goal window and momentum behind them saw Spartans on the ascendency however they were brought back to reality when a Berwick effort hit the crossbar for a bit of a wakey wakey moment.

Sean Brown was then introduce for Blair Henderson who was roundly applauded for his efforts as he made his was for a sit down in the huts.

Cammy Russell then cut back inside from his run to unleash a shot that looked destined for the top corner but for a super save from Calum Antell.

Whatever riled the Berwick gaffer saw him yellow carded but instead of taking his punishment on the nose like a naughty puppy, his applauding of the decision saw him see Red and off he trundled to watch the match from beyond the technical area.

A brace of replacements with ten minutes to go saw Josh Laing and Alan Brown come on for Rhys Armstrong and Gregor Woods.

With just four minutes left, things got just that little bit hairy as Berwick were awarded – and converted from the spot.  A ball into the box from out wide saw Liam Buchanan tumble over a Mikey Allan toe and the spot kick was despatched much to the joy of the small band of Berwick fans in the ground.

If the penalty was nerve-wracking, the long ball beyond the Spartans defence that then saw Lewis Barr almost turn villain into hero but for the width of the post as his shot flew past Blair Carswell who came off his line, hit the woodwork and was hoofed to safety by Sam Jones.

Squeekybumtime personified.  Then the final whistle blew.

FT: Spartans 3-2 Berwick Rangers

Malt and Hops Man of the Match: Bradley Whyte

Next Fixture

Date: Friday 17th May
Opponent: Dumbarton
Venue:Ainslie Park
Competition: Play-Off Final 2nd Leg
Kick off: 7.30pm

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