BERWICK RANGERS (Shielfield Park)
It was another lengthy journey for a Scottish League game, though today I remained strictly 'South of the Border' in England. This was because today's jaunt was to Shielfield Park in the border town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, home to the "Wee 'Gers" It was a 1st versus 3rd clash at the top of the table as 'Super' Annan looked for a victory which would topple Rangers from the summit. Having said that, it was good to see Berwick at the top of the table as when I was a kid in the 1980's, doing my Shoot 'league ladders', they always seemed to be bottom of the pile!
I couldn't make my mind up about Shielfield Park, as the ground is a bit run down and, as you know, I treasure ground's such as these, but for some reason I just couldn't warm to the place. The ground is shared with speedway (Berwick Bandits) so you are well away from the pitch and maybe this reflects in the atmosphere. There is also a very noticable slope and you can clearly see this in the way the main stand is constructed. The other side of the ground is a covered terrace, which was the vantage point from which I watched the match.
The game itself was pretty entertaining. Berwick, kicking up the slope, were 1-0 up inside the first minute when Darren Gribben fired home and they had the majority of play in the first half. It was a bit of a surprise when Annan levelled after 26 minutes, a well worked move ended with Steve Sloan finding the net. However they were only level for a couple of minutes before Gribbens bagged his second from a free kick, though it did take a massive deflection to wrong foot the 'keeper. On the balance of play though, it was no more than Berwick deserved.
The second half was a different story as it was virtually constant Annan pressure as Berwick defended deeper and deeper. Admittedly having a man sent-off around the hour mark didn't help, David Greenhill receiving his second yellow. It looked as if the Borderers were going to hold on for the win but in the second minute of stoppage time Jack Steele buried a header to grab a point for Athletic. The point did neither team any favours as Berwick dropped to 2nd and Annan stayed 3rd, Albion Rovers leapfrogging the pair of them to top the table.