Part 109 – OS3 C2 S2 P7 – League 2 Match Day 1 – Stirling (H) 1st August 2020 15:00

Joao (John) Baldé, on loan from Rangers

John Baldé (18, 6ft) is our AML for the season, coming in from Rangers on loan. In one of those strange quirks IRL he is with Berwick Rangers on loan until January!! I expect him to get plenty of game time in our Gegenpress.

As an Inside Forward I’ve asked him to get narrow and in reality act as a wide striker – 12 Dribbling and 14 Acc with OK Passing & Crossing should get him involved.

Before our first league game we have the usual bits and pieces to discuss, including a month-end’s worth of data.

On the Monday our U18’s beat Dunfermline U18 5-0(!) – triallist AML James Stokes with a hat-trick, Sean Slaven & 17 yo Right Back Gregor Malcolm with the goals.

August 1st rolls around – here are the headline numbers for July.

Lots of changes in July – Archie Gardiner coming on well, but Big Rod is a disappointment – looks like he needs extra sessions as he’s decreased in lots of areas.

Kieran McGrath is a cm taller (182), Archie Gardiner a kg heavier (64), as is Lewis Faulds (71) & Tom Sutherland (71).

Some good performances with a number of tactics in July. Lewis Barr & Dean Cornelius top the passing stats, Lewis with just over 2 Key Passes per game which is a KPI for me. Liam Watt hit a 28.6% Cross completion & Lewis Allan had a 64% header completion – Thinking I play him as a supporting TM so he can try and feed the other striker in a front 2. Kieran McGrath had a low header completion (27.6%) so will try and direct crosses away from him in a 2-forward setup, or encourage low crosses when he’s on his own up top.

Harry Nicolson had 4 Interceptions per game which is very nice, and Kieran McGrath is currently 1 in 1 for goals, long may that continue!

So to Shielfield Park for our home game v Stirling, who struggled last year, finishing 9th (After turning me down for the managers job at the turn of the year). The Season Preview has them finishing 4th though, and they had an OK time in the Betfred, winning 2 (Montrose of League 1 & Peterhead) and losing 2 (Both Dundee’s, United of the Premiership, Dundee of the Championship) so they aren’t to be taken lightly.

As we are at home I’m going Gegenpress, knowing we have a game in 3 days and that we will go to the Control formation for that Away from home v Annan, meaning I can rotate a lot of the team.

4-2-3-1 Positive Gegenpress, taking the game to Stirling – McLaughlin back in on the right wing, Balde on the left, Andy Turner gets his first start as our best BBM, McIlduff starts at left wingback. Cornelius starts ahead of Barr in CM – I can see them battling a bit for the Centre Mid spots this year. Stirling go with a 4-4-2.

First Half Comprehensive Highlights

HT Berwick 1 (Nanitelamio 7) Stirling 0

Back in our usual Yellow & Black today and its a drizzly 22C!!. A couple of early chances and then BOOM! Big Rod Nanitelamio slams one in after a bit of defensive pinball from a free kick. 1-0 in the 7th minute, with Stirling hanging on a bit. They did come back into the game a bit though, always keen to break, but our defence was holding strong. A good solid half, 1-0, should have been 2 at least. Barr on for Cornelius, DLP, Sutherland to AM and a few other little tweaks.

Second Half Comprehensive Highlights

FT Berwick 4 (Nanitelamio 7, Balde 60, Barr 67, McGrath 71) Stirling 2 (Stewart 86, McLaren 90+3) Att 512 (64 Away)

Nothing much coming from Stirling in the first 10 minutes, but it just takes a break, and Stirling nearly drew level, fine work by Allison yet again. But then it was 2-0 – 60th minute, McLaughlin cross, Balde header nicely guided in the bottom left corner. Meechan on for Morrison. McLaughlin then gets the ball, puts Barr in, 3-0 from the edge of the area. 67 gone. Hussain on for Sutherland, Big Rod to Anchorman. And almost straight away its 4 – ball over to McLaughlin from Big Rod, low cross finds McGrath who scores well. Carnage. Allison pulled off a good save to his right after 77 to keep his clean sheet intact, but they got their consolation in the 86th, Mark Stewart with the close-in finish -almost too many cooks at the back. We strived (strove?) to get number 5, but it was actually 4-2 in the 93rd minute; a quick break and cross found McLaren at the back post. And that’s how it finished – feeling taking Big Rod out of the back 4 cost us a couple of couple but created 1, but all-in-all I’m pretty happy.

The relegated teams (Brechin & Stranraer) has mixed results – Cowdenbeath will be there-or-thereabouts by the end of the season I reckon.

We’ve done well on the xG front in the last 2 games (QotS 3 goals v 1.91 xG, Stirling 4 goals v 1.90) so we will look to continue finishing clinically 🙂

Next up is Annan away on Tuesday, so just 3 days so expect a slightly rotated team and tactics. And maybe even a Betfred 2nd Round draw! See you then.

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