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Berwick vs Rangers (SFL 3rd) 23/02/2013 KO 12:00 GMT


Lofty.

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On Saturday, Rangers make the border crossing as they visit the only English club currently playing in the Scottish Leagues. Rangers will certainly be looking to improve on the previous visit to Shielfield Park, back in February, which ended with Berwick coming from a goal down to snatch what was described at the time as a "well deserved draw."

 

Rangers goal on the day was scored by Andy Little:

 

260812_little_goal_01.jpg

 

Back to next Saturday's game, Berwick haven't been in the best of form, having won only two and drawn two more of their last ten league games..

 

Rangers assistant manager KENNY MCDOWALL is hoping Fran Sandaza and Ross Perry will be fit for Saturday’s SFL3 clash against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park.

Both players have been working hard on the training pitches at Auchenhowie as they recover from recent injury problems and having the pair back would undoubtedly be a boost for manager Ally McCoist.

Sandaza picked up his thigh injury in the club’s Scottish Cup defeat at Tannadice on February 2 and was replaced by Kal Naismith at half-time.

Perry, meanwhile, was taken off after 40 minutes in the same game due to a hamstring strain with Chris Hegarty taking his place in defence.

McDowall is delighted they have made good progress and is keeping his fingers crossed they will be available for this weekend’s trip south of the border.

He said: “Fran and Ross have both been working at the tail end of last week so they are back running.

“We are hopeful we might get one or two additions to the squad because it is fairly tight, last week we were operating with 16 because we had six injuries.

“So we are hopeful those two will join the squad again this weekend.â€

Lee McCulloch has not pulled on a blue jersey since January 5 when Elgin City were the opponents at Ibrox and McDowall confirmed the club’s top scorer and captain is currently seeing a specialist about the “bone bruising†in his ankle.

 

 

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You can get long odds on any kind of Berwick result today. Shortest being 33/1 for a 1-0 win, with the draw from 14/1. Joint favourites are the 2-0 and 3-0 Rangers win, both currently at 7/1.

 

Blimey. As I write the odds have shifted. Favourite is now a 2-1 Rangers win at 8/1 with the 1-1 at 12/1, and 28/1 for a 1-0 Berwick win.

 

I as ever, am predicting nothing!

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There's just been an announcement on ESPN that "police are monitoring the chanting of Rangers supporters".

 

Can't say I've noticed anything nickeable myself. Give it time and you'll have to be careful about singing anything stronger than "we're not too fond of Celtic".

 

Back to the game Rangers currently winning 2-1 with just over an hour gone, Andy Little having given Rangers a first half lead following on from Dean Shiels (I think it was) with a penalty to equalise the own goal that gave Berwick an early lead.

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It seems I must have missed something because the following has just appeared on the official Rangers site:

 

RANGERS Football Club has issued the following statement in light of events at this afternoon's game at Shielfield Park.

A spokesman said: "The Club is disappointed by certain outbursts of inappropriate singing by a section of the support at Berwick.

"Our fans have been excellent this season both home and away and we do not want to see this tarnished."

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Berwick Rangers 1-3 Rangers

ce51d2ca6d647c403dfc0c09f3283ae8_XL.jpg

RANGERS had to battle back from being a goal down to record their ninth away league victory of the season against Berwick at Shielfield Park.

Ally McCoist’s men went behind after just five minutes when Darren Lavery’s header clipped Anestis Argyriou on its way into the net but the Light Blues responded quickly with Dean Shiels levelling from the penalty spot.

The Borderers once again deserve credit for the fighting spirit they showed throughout but in Andy Little Rangers have a matchwinner in terrific form and his volley which made it 2-1 before the half-time break was simply stunning.

It was the Ulsterman’s fifth goal against Ian Little’s side in 2012/13 and once again showed his instinctive ability to find the net.

After the interval Seb Faure, who had replaced Barrie McKay, scored his first Rangers goal on 65 minutes and this secured three more valuable points for the runaway league leaders.

McCoist made one enforced change to his team with Emilson Cribari travelling but missing the game through illness which meant Ross Perry returned to the starting line-up.

He joined Chris Hegarty in central defence with full-backs Argyriou and Lee Wallace completing the back line.

Ian Black and Kyle Hutton were flanked by wingers David Templeton and Barrie McKay in a four-man midfield.

And Northern Ireland internationals Shiels and Little started in attack, with the latter leading the line.

On the bench for kick-off were Scott Gallacher, Faure, Kal Naismith, Robbie Crawford and Fraser Aird who all played in the Reserves’ SFL league title winning 2-0 victory over Queen’s Park at Ibrox on Tuesday night.

This afternoon, however, the focus was on the first team but it was Berwick that started brightly and opened the scoring.

A wicked corner kick from Dylan Easton found Lavery at the back post and his downward header bounced off Greek right back Argyriou before beating the helpless Alexander.

On 9 minutes, however, Rangers replied. Dean Shiels was brought down in the 18-yard box by Dougie Brydon and after Calum Murray had pointed to the spot it was Shiels who calmly picked his spot after keeper Marc McCallum had dived early to his left.

It was an entertaining start to the match and on 19 minutes the referee had to look closely at a tackle by Argyriou on Easton but this time he waved away Berwick’s pleas for a penalty.

Before the half hour mark both teams were working hard and trying to regroup after conceding early on and most of the play was now in the middle of the park with Hutton and Black seeing a lot of the ball.

The bobbly playing surface wasn’t helping and it wasn’t a surprise a long punt brought the next goalscoring chance, for Berwick, on 36 minutes.

Scott Dalziel, Perry and Hegarty all attempted to win a header 25 yards from Alexander’s goal. The ball, however, dropped to Lavery but his right foot shot on the half volley was blocked by Alexander who used his legs to deny the number 9 his second goal.

At this stage Berwick were in the ascendancy but in first-half injury time Little produced his moment of magic to put Rangers ahead at the break.

Lee Wallace’s powerful cross from the left found the lethal hitman who volleyed the ball high into the roof of the net on the turn from eight yards for his 21st goal of the campaign. More importantly it gave Rangers a platform for the second period.

McCoist elected to make one change to his side for the restart with Kal Naismith returning for a two-game suspension to take the place of McKay who had a quiet first half.

And five minutes into the second period Faure was also thrown into the action with Perry coming off with a bloody nose.

Rangers were now in search of a third goal and Naismith almost had an immediate impact with a left foot shot which flew inches past McCallum’s near post.

But on 65 minutes the league leaders extended their lead and it was Faure that took his chance with aplomb.

Templeton’s deep corner was nodded back across goal by Black and after Naismith’s header had been blocked it was left to the Frenchman to drive a low, accurate shot into the net through a packed six-yard box.

Berwick kept up their impressive work-rate in the latter stages but it was Rangers who deservedly came out on top on a bitterly cold afternoon.

BERWICK: McCallum, Jacobs, Hoskins, Townsley, Brydon, Currie, Easton (McLaren 47), Janczyk, Lavery, Dalziel (O’Brien 77), Gielty.

SUBS NOT USED: McCaldon, McLean, Carse.

BOOKED: Currie, McLaren

RANGERS: Alexander; Argyriou, Hegarty, Perry (Faure 50), Wallace; McKay (Naismith 46), Hutton, Black, Templeton (Aird 85); Shiels; Little.

SUBS NOT USED: Gallacher, Crawford.

BOOKED: Hutton

REFEREE: Calum Murray.

 

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After good performances against Queens Park and Clyde, it was a return to the kind of performance we have been used to seeing this season in the 3-1 away win at Berwick. Rangers were forced into just the one change with Ross Perry coming in for Emilson Cribari who was out through illness.

Slow Start

Last week at Clyde we started on the front foot, pressing Clyde from the first minute and were rewarded with an early goal. Against Berwick it was a return to the slow starts we had become accustomed to seeing. It was Berwick who looked more up from it as we struggled to string two passes together early on. Berwick took an early lead after poor defending from a corner resulted in Argyriou putting the ball into his own net.

We have often looked vulnerable from set pieces this season and this was no different. Ross Perry and Kyle Hutton both appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball and going by Argyriou’s reaction after the goal, he seemed to not know much about it. A commanding figure in the box is something we have been severely lacking this season. The response to the goal however was one of the few positives from the game. Dean Shiels did well to find a bit of space down the side of the centre back who fouled him in the box.

Shiels playing alongside Little

One of the most positive aspects from the past two games has been the build up play through the middle of the park. This suited Dean Shiels as he was able to get the ball into feet and link up with Little. Against Berwick he appeared to be playing more alongside Little rather than playing deeper than him. I think this is a much better partnership when Shiels plays just off Little. The tactics from Ally McCoist were likely the reason for this.

Pitch to blame for the long ball tactic?

The long ball tactics has frustrated us all this season. I believe it only works when Kevin Kyle is in the team. Given the style of play we have seen recently on better pitches, it must have been the pitch at Berwick that made Ally resort to the long ball. There was no flow to the game from either team; it was really scrappy with very few moments of quality. A terrific goal from Andy Little on the stroke of half time was the only moment of quality in the game.

Instead of building from front to back through the middle bringing Shiels into the game, we were treated to constant long balls up to Andy Little. To be fair to him, he won a few but there was a lack of support around him for us to retain possession. This left Shiels isolated up front and he wasn’t able to get into the game. Hopefully on better pitches we will return to the kind of football we seen in our previous two games.

Perry’s positioning

Ross Perry is a player who splits opinion; some believe he is capable and this is his chance to cement his place as a first choice at Rangers and some believe he is simply not good enough. Given some of his performances this season I would tend to agree with the latter. Against Berwick his positioning at times was poor and could have led to Berwick scoring. Far too often he was get drawn towards the left back area leaving a lot of space between himself and Chris Hegarty, which Berwick almost exposed on a couple of occasions. The regular partnership this season has been Cribari and Perry. But after the performances of Hegarty and even Faure when he came on yesterday, it is something that Ally should rethink.

Player watch – Anestis Argyriou

The return of the Greek right back has coincided with our recent improved performances. Having a natural right back in the team gives us a much better balance. The game against Berwick however, wasn’t his finest. The game started badly for him after he scored the own goal but not long after he almost gave away a needless penalty. In general his defending was ok; he made a few interceptions and his positioning was good as well. He pressed high up the pitch to try and win the ball off the opposing winger which he did at times and that allowed us to start an attack from much higher up the pitch.

With Ally using the long ball we didn’t see much in terms of link up play with either McKay or Naismith. Against Clyde he provided a very effective overlap to drag opposing defenders out of position. With the tactics used against Berwick we didn’t see that. But the problem with Argyriou is his delivery from out wide. His crosses never seem to find a teammate and that wasn’t any different in this game. This is the one area of his game that needs to drastically improve. We all saw the danger Wallace can cause on the left hand side with his delivery; we need the same from Argyriou on the right.

We have made a habit of winning ugly this season and the 3-1 win at Berwick was no different. As some of the players said ‘that was the kind of game we would have lost or drawn at the start of the season’. The only ground we are still to win at this season is Stirling, the place we lost our only league game of the season. Let’s right that wrong on Tuesday night.

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