Ross Meechan (25, 6ft) has been a very steady right WB for me since I arrived, rarely dipping below 6.8. IRL he started at St. Mirren, before getting lots of playing time at Stenny in League 1 before joining Forfar. Looking at his stats I don’t know if he affects the game enough though (Just 1 assist as an overlapping WB in the last 20 games). Johnny Conway (18, 5ft 11) is rapidly approaching his level, so next season may be his last for us.
Before our massive game up on the Moray Firth v league-leaders and filthy 4-3-3-meisters Buckie Thistle there’s the usual admin plus a few new contracts to look at.
4 players in the TotW this week – Tom Sutherland (2nd time this season), Lewis Barr (3rd), Ross Lyon (2nd – 6.8 – Are there no decent right wingers in the league?) and last but by no means least Captain Fantastic Kyle Allison (9th time this season!!!!) – A 7.0 even though he let 2 goals in.
Our U18’s won 1-0 away at Inverness Athletic Res, 16yo striker Alex Gourlay with the goal. Our Reserves won 4-2 away to Queen’s Park Res in their last SPFL Reserve League game of the season – Cameron Dawson with 2, left winger Aaron Ballantyne & centre back Declan Maxwell with the goals. We finished 10th out of 20, 28 points from 19 games (Only play each other once).
Right winger Ryan Scullion (18, 5ft 7) signs until the end of next season – 2* Current ability, our 3rd best right winger at the club and quick (15 Acc 14 Pac)
Keeper Shea Dowie (19, 6ft 2) also signs until May 2021. 2* Current Ability, currently our 4th best keeper, but will be 3rd when we let Sean Brennan go in the summer. Good handling & decisions.
Left Back Lewis Faulds (17, 5ft 11) signs for another season – he is currently on loan at Inverrurie Locos in the Highland League and is a a regular starter, averaging 7.2 in his last 6 games. 2.5* current, he is our 3rd best left back (2nd if you leave loanee Jay Campbell out).
The aforementioned right back Johnny Conway has signed until 2021 – 3rd best right back, will be 2nd when we let Craig Reid go in the summer. 2* current
My keep/not keep method for players is currently this, but will change if we get a OP player that skews the star ratings:
22 or over – Only keep if 3* Current or above
21 – 2.5* Current or above
20 – 2* Current or above
19 – 1.5* Current or above
U18 – 1* Current or above, > 3* Potential
This can change on individual cases, but is the rule-of-thumb I use.
Currently we will be trimming 8 players of 20-or-over and one 18 yo at the end of the season – £385/wk total. Currently we will be letting 4 youth players go at the end of their youth contracts in 2021. I will talk about targets at the end of the season, but a 4*+ current ability striker is at the top of the list.
So to our antepenultimate game of the season away at Buckie Thistle – They’ve won 5 out of their last 6 after not winning in 6, so are seemingly either up or down form-wise. They’ve been bobbling between a 4-3-3 Narrow and 4-5-1 formation; quite different strategies, but there doesn’t seem to be a Home v Away tactic differentiation.
I go with an Adamson/Allan partnership up top, McLaughlin back at right wing, McNiff back at centre back. Barr & Gardiner in Centre Mid as Sutherland is suspended (yellow cards). Again, keeping it simple but going with Early Crosses to try and get Allan into the game, and I’m focusing play down the left. Buckie go 4-3-3 Narrow – it was 1-1 last time we faced each other. Also noticed they have Civil Service old-boy James Hainey up front today, lets see how we get on.
HT Buckie Thistle 1 (Cowie 45+1) Berwick 0
Buckie started in the bright sunshine and looked dangerous from the off, though Allan had a shot saved well in the 4th minute. Berwick had a few good forays forward. Buckie had a goal disallowed for offside in the 26th minute, we had one disallowed in the 34th (Adamson about a yard off). News coming in that Cowdenbeath are 3 down v Stenny. But we went 1 down in injury time at the end of the half – pinball from poor clearances resulting in Cowie scoring from 20 yards. We just need a goal. 1-0 at Half Time. Healy on for Adamson, Watt to Inverted Winger, see if he get get in some gaps on the left. Early Crosses off; they scored after a poor cross from McLaughlin was countered with.
FT Buckie Thistle 2 (Cowie 45+1, Dorrat 75) Berwick 1 (McLaughlin 64) Att 626 (53 Away)
Cowdenbeath are 4 down and Elgin are also losing – even if we could get a point that would be amazing. Wingplay off – we go narrow to try and disrupt Buckie. And then a worldie – a Barr pass volleyed back into the middle by Campbell and headed home by McLaughlin – absolute scenes. 1-1, 64 minutes gone. Orru on for Watt. Back to wingplay, Lyon on for McLaughlin, both wingers to Defensive. Then calamitous defence at the back post lets Dorrat have 3 bites of the Cherry – 2-1 Buckie in the 75th minute. And we just couldn’t break through in the final minutes – 2-1 it finished, and the stats show it was a relatively fair result.
Down to 6th on goal difference – Stenhousemuir beating Cowdenbeath means it’s still 5 teams with playoff potential with just 2 games to go with Annan just 2 points behind us in 7th. Annan have to play both Stenhousemuir & Elgin – If we get the win v Cowdenbeath next week we are still in with a shout if results go our way. See you then.