A decent journey for us today (472 mile round trip) up to the Moray Firth to play 4th placed Elgin City in our 4th league game of the season. They seem to have a small squad now like East Fife – 16 in the first team squad including Civil Service old-boy Jamie Innes (Was a good youngster but didn’t play much if at all for me when I was there). They have signed 5 players this season (1 from Queen of the South, 2 from Highland League teams, 2 Frees) but let go 16 players in total. As such I’m feeling confident for doing well in the league as a whole, that’s two teams who I’ve checked who have taken a machete to their squad – Maybe shows teams overreaching themselves at this level where there’s not the income to support it, trips to Ibrox notwithstanding…
Before we play there are a few bits.
Declan Maxwell (19, DLC) has gone to Whitehill Welfare until the new year – hoping he can get some good game time at a struggling club at centre back….It will either toughen him up or destroy him mentally, I’m willing to take the punt 🙂
A couple of games on the Tuesday – Brechin beating Cowdenbeath in a barnstormer 5-3. We have Brechin next on Saturday in what could be a very early sighter for the League title.
We currently have a couple of weeks before the transfer deadline – I’m now in the position to get a couple more top players to strengthen after our little windfall v Rangers, plus get us into a good position for possible life in League 1 next season (optimistic-much?)
Back to Gegenpress. We have a spine of the team that doesn’t change (Allison, Big Rod, Nicolson, Sutherland, Barr/Cornelius) but the different tactics allow a decent bit of rotation when we have Sat/Wed/Sat all month (First mid-week off comes between the Brechin game next up and the Stenny game on the 29th – 7 whole days! – Luxury). When the fixtures settle down we can start playing the most effective tactic/one that uses the best players. McIlduff & Morrison back in the wingback positions, Balde & McLauglin on the wings, Turner back as a BBM, Cornelius starts in place of Barr, Slaven up top after his brace in the same formation v East Fife. Elgin start with the same formation – 4-2-3-1. Brotherston is dangerous up top, though interestingly only rated at 2* ability by our scouts…
HT Elgin City 0 Berwick 2 (McLaughlin pen 6, Slaven 45+2)
A really good start – 1-0 in the 6th minute – A well-placed McLaughlin penalty after Turner was pushed in the box. Elgin look knackered as well. It was pretty much all Berwick, shot after shot blocked by the scrambling Elgin defence. Turner & Cornelius have been outstanding in centre mid, winning back possession so many times. And our dominance payed off – Morrison & McIlduff swapping crosses, before a beautiful near-post ball from McIlduff found Slaven, who nodded home well. 2-0 at half time. Dominant. Think I’ll slow it down a bit for the 2nd half, try to discourage the long shots, see if we can get a few more goals.
FT Elgin City 1 (Cameron 64) Berwick 2 (McLaughlin pen 6, Slaven 45+2) Att 609 (54 Away)
Again, it was all Berwick at the start of the half, though Elgin did hit the bar with a speculative effort. Barr on for Cornelius on 60. And then a shock – a Cooper cross found Cameron alone at the back post, who headed in well. 2-1. Will we be punished for not making the most of our chances? McGrath on for Slaven. An unbelievable amount of blocked shots today. Orru on for Sutherland, back into centre mid. How this game is even close is crazy, feeling an FM-ing coming on…. Disallowed goal (to us) – Barr was offside apparently. And its all over…. 2-1, 38 shots, 12 on target, madness, but a win’s a win. 4 from 4.
East Fife look like they’ll be propping up the league again – a 4-1 drubbing at home to Annan.
xG – Get ready for this – 3.875 (Highest for Berwick by 1.4) v 2 goals, 6.696 xGSoT v 2 Goals, 17.998 SoT v 14. All below expected – That should have been a 4-0/1, but the Gegenpress definitely feels far more scatter-gun.
Its the battle of the unbeaten teams next up as we host Brechin in our first meeting of the save. Should be a good game. I’m off on a short break so expect the post in the middle of next week. See you then.