Today we travel the 92 miles to Central Lowlands to play Stenhousemuir in another crunch game (5th v 6th) – victory and a Cowdenbeath loss (v Peterhead at home) and we will be 1 point off a playoff place with 7 games left and our penultimate game of the season v Cowdenbeath.
We have a few bits to go through first.
My first managerial award – League 2 manager of the month for February 🙂
Some decent attribute changes – Worries about Lewis Allan, who at 23 shouldn’t be regressing. Ross Lyon doesn’t train well, so may be gone at the end of the season. Tom Sutherland is still improving nicely.
Stats from last month – Tom Sutherland spraying the passes around as a DLP/AP, Lewis Barr over 85% accuracy is superb. All 3 wingers that have played this month doing well with the crosses, McLaughlin with over 25% as an ever-present stands out. Lewis Allan completing over 2/3rds of his headers is good, but his impact on games isn’t (Daryl Healy completes just under 50% and does impact games more). Our central defence is knitting together well, averaging about 8 interceptions a match as a pair. Everything else is pretty solid.
19 yo Archie Gardiner has grown 1cm (170cm) as well.
Our U18 drew 3-3 with Crossgates Res, 18yo centre-back Declan Maxwell, 16 yo centre-mid Andy Doig and 18 yo No. 10 Ross Gilmour with the goals.
Our Reserves lost 3-1 to Stranraer Res in the SPFL Reserve League 2 – 19 yo left winger Aaron Ballantyne with the goal.
We’ve also had the youth intake.
The 5 players at the top are the interesting ones, and Keeper Ross Kostromin looks very solid indeed – 6ft 3in, 14 Handling & Reflexes, 12 Decisions, all at 16 years and 3 months…. I will keep an eye on them. James Doolan (5ft 9 Striker, 16 in April 2020) has 14 Heading, 15 Determination, 14 Teamwork and 15 Work Rate!!!!!!!!!!!
Just 4 players in the team of the week 🙂 Allison again (7th this season), McNiff (6th), Watt (1st) and Healy (2nd)
Our U18 and the Youth Candidate team played out a 1-0 win to the U18 – 18yo triallist Billy Frail (Originated from Partick Thistle) with the goal.
We have signed the 5 I was initially interested in (Kostromin, pretty much our 2nd best keeper), Doolan (ST), Tom Grant (DL), Alex Gourlay (ST) and Gary Fletcher (DR).
Aaron Ballantyne (19, 5ft 3in) has signed an adult contract – 1.5* current, 4.5* potential left winger, 15 Technique is his standout attribute but he is Low Determination so we need to knock that out of him.
Declan Maxwell (19, 6ft 4) has also signed an adult contract – 1.5* Current, 3.5* Potential. He already has 13 Strength and 14 Jumping Reach, just need to work on his 6 Heading.
Daryl Healy (22, 6ft 2) has signed until the end of next season – no wage rise, just a £5/game appearance fee rise. A solid extension.
So to Stenhousemuir – 4th away game in a row, our scouts don’t rate them as strong as us from a player ability standpoint, they have a LDLWL last 5 game form, 4 of these at home; we are WDDWW.
We go back to 4-4-1-1 – I’d rather bring Gardiner into the team than have Allan up top currently, but if things aren’t working its an option to drop Sutherland back as a DLP and bring Allan on for his heading prowess. Stenhousemuir have a 3-4-3 Wingbacks Wide style that really overloads the wings – might think about going through the middle with Sutherland/Barr/Gardiner if we get outplayed early doors.
HT Stenhousemuir 0 Berwick 1 (Smith OG 19)
A diluvian Stenhousemuir, I’m fully expecting Noah to rock up at the turnstiles, the Ark parked in the overflow. A very quick start by Berwick, plenty of chances coming in the first 10, but Stenhousemuir started coming back into it. In the 19th minute however Sutherland got a bit of space and had a pot-shot, and we had one of those goals you don’t really see IRL – off the post, off the heel of the static goalkeeper and in – a OG against Smith, 1-0 Berwick. We were playing really crisp football, and should have had at least 1 more goal, anf if it weren’t for good goalkeeping from Smith. 1-0 at HT, looking very solid again. Interestingly the team don’t think they have played very well – the ‘You weren’t that bad’ chat on Passionate gave all Greens…… Campbell coming on for McIlduff at Left WB.
FT Stenhousemuir 0 Berwick 1 (Smith OG 19) Att 387 (72 Away)
A good start by Stenhousemuir, and a good chance in the first minute that was defended well. Orru on for Watt on 60, who was having a poor game, also went narrower, attack through the middle. Allan on for Barr on 65, 4-4-2. Feels like we are hanging on a bit. Healy should have scored in the 84th – a long ball by Allison, Healy took it well but hit the post. Allison then pulled off a 1-on-1 worldie to keep it 1-0. Squeaky Bum Time. Nantelamio nearly messed it up the last seconds, missing a simple pass from Meechan, but the Stenhousemuir striker couldn’t finish. 1-0 at the finish, another 3 points!! We hung on a bit though, need to be much stronger against the Albion Rovers/Buckie Thistle/Elgin’s of this world.
So, still 4 points from Cowdenbeath in 4th, but also a 4 point gap to Stenhousemuir in 6th and 5 points to Peterhead in 7th with 7 games left. Elgin City (Who we play next at Home) dropped points to East Fife so are only 5 points above us in 3rd, so possibly only 2 points above us if we can get a result against them next Saturday. See you then.