Today we travel the 85 miles to Fife to play 4th placed Cowdenbeath ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowdenbeath_F.C. ) – a win puts us within 3 points of them so its a biggie. in recent years IRL The Blue Brazil have struggled to stay in the league, being in the Championship as recently 2014/15 they have played and won in the relegation playoffs twice – In 2017 against East Kilbride and in 2018 against Cove Rangers. In game they finished 2018/19 in 4th, IRL 6th so their fortunes are starting to pick up after a very difficult 5 years.
Interestingly this is the shortest journey we have in League 2 (Annan Athletic are 87 miles away) which puts into context how big Scotland is and how remote Berwick is – If they were admitted to the English Football Pyramid, say in the Vanarama North they would (this season anyway) have a minimum journey of 61 miles (Blyth Spartans) but a maximum one-way journey of 327 miles (Hereford City) – 6 hours by car on a good day. Currently our longest journey is 249 miles (Buckie Thistle) – just under 5 hours non-stop.
We’ve had a few interesting bits come up.
An “x showing remarkable improvements” email – Berwick seems to have a decent youth setup as Chris Barras was another one of their proteges who helped us last season at Civil Service.
Allison makes it 5 Team of the Week selections in a row(!!!!!), McIlduff in for a second week in a row.
Our U18 drew 1-1 with Dumfries U18, 33 yo Craig Reid with the penalty.
Our Reserves drew 1-1 with Stirling Res in the SPFL Reserve League 2; 18 yo striker Paul McCarthy with the goal.
14th Feb 2020 – NEW LOAN SIGNING
Liam Archibald (18, 5ft 10) comes in from Aberdeen as cover for the 2 centre backs. he comes straight in for the game as McNiff has a 1-game ban after his sending-off v Buckie (Which I tried to get overturned). Superb mentals for an 18 yo, hoping he can do a job for us over these last 10 games of the season.
Cowdenbeath have a very strong squad as per the scout report, and pre-season we expected to finish in 3rd so are definitely there or there-abouts. They’ve not lost in 5 games (W1 D3), we’ve not lost in 6 (W3 D2) so maybe a draw is most likely. They tend to use the 4-1-3-2 DM formation – it will be interesting to see how wide they play.
New loanee Archibald comes in for the suspended McNiff – As before we have a stable team and we know our best 11. The loss of McNiff could be a big one as it upsets the defence which has been so resolute recently. Cowdenbeath indeed go with the 4-1-3-2 (DM) formation – wondering if they will play with inverted wingers or very narrow as Malcolm might get outnumbered in the middle for them. The honeymoon has to end some time, lets try and not let it be today.
HT Cowdenbeath 1 (Allan 11) Berwick 0
A slow enough start, but with some chances to both sides, including a fair few set pieces for us. Then in the 11th minute what I feared – a ball over leaving Archibald standing, and Allan scored for Cowdenbeath – 0-1, just miscommunication really. No changes yet, just keep on playing! We had a goal disallowed for a dubious offside from Healy in the 23rd minute. Thinking a draw here would be superb. We were definitely getting a decent amount of chances though. Not too bad – 1-0 Cowdenbeath at the half, we do seem to be in it though. A few tweaks required, but nothing major.
FT Cowdenbeath 1 (Allan 11) Berwick 1 (Adamson 87) Att 567 (151 Away)
I’ve taken the Wing Focus off, attacking width down a notch to wide and inverted the wingers, hoping to flood the middle where they only have Malcolm, looking for some different vertical lines of engagement. Cowdenbeath should have scored in the 48th minute, Allison with a superb save after a rebound off the post. Double change on 60 – Adamson for Healy, Gardiner for Barr. Upped the tempo a bit, pouring on the attack. Another offside goal, McLaughlin after a bar-buster from Gardiner in the 83rd minute. An the breakthrough, a stunning long ball from Archibald found Adamson unmarked, and he fired home superbly – 1-1 in the 87th minute!! Lyon on for McLaughlin. And it finished 1-1 – a brilliant 1-on-1 save by Allison just into injury time keeping it that way; a superb point again, though if you look at the stats I think we could have nicked it.
7th, but just a point from 5th with Stenhousemuir & Peterhead both losing. Buckie may be starting to fall away, losing 1-0 at home to East Fife even though they we (similar to our game) playing against 10 men for 70 minutes. Elgin are definitely in the conversation at the top as well.
Pretty clear Healy’s goal wasn’t offside – I said so in the press conference but also said the officials had a good game overall.
Next up is East Fife, bottom, Away (the closest league team to me geographically IRL) so what could possibly go wrong there!!!!! 10 games left. See you soon.