A Few Games From Greatness – Berwick Rangers – PearceyPlays #FM19 Journeyman Part 177 – OS4 C2 S3 – April 2022

Will we finish it and do better than Orson Krennic?

Welcome to (hopefully) a League 1 Title and promotion-to-the-Championship celebrations in this post as we have 5 matches left in the 21/22 season.

Five tough games (v 5th, 8th, 2nd, 6th & 7th) but we are 7 points clear at the top of the league and are now unbeaten in League-play since 30th October – 5 months and 17 league matches – so we (should) fear no-one. If results go our way we could win the League on April 9th versus Montrose, if not and we win the first two games of the month we can wrap it up at current 2nd-placed Airdrie on the 16th. No squeaky-bum bottle-jobs please!

Firstly the usual Monthly bits and pieces.

Cammy Dow picks up Player of the Month for League 1 πŸ™‚ he was 3rd in the Young Player of the Month – think you only need to have played in 2 or more matches for the Young Player gong, 3 or more for the overall Player of the Month.

Manager of the Month (again) πŸ™‚

Interestingly though we are right at the end of the season and top by 7 points the team cohesion is still only average…

My fear is that if/when we go up we will need another overhaul – Cohesion will take a big hit. I reckon 4 of our players are currently good enough to play in the Championship – and our wage bill would be less than half the next lowest team (Currently Queen of the South at Β£500k/annum – we are at Β£206k…)

2nd April 2022 – Edinburgh City (H) – Ladbrokes League 1

We welcome a resolute Edinburgh City side (WDLWD last 5) who are second only to us for lowest number of losses (6 versus our 4) so expect a tight one.

Positivity reigns as we stick with the 4-2-3-1, MacPherson & Palmer the pairing in Centre-Mid, MacPherson doing what he does best a s a more defensively-minded BWM, Palmer the shuttler. It’s a pretty set team now, hopefully we will reap the benefits to Cohesion that this gives. Three of the lads are a Yellow away from 1 game off. Edinburgh start with the same 4-5-1 they’ve gone with all season – it’s put them in with a shout of the play-offs so good on them.

FT Berwick 5 (MacIver 6, Davidson 29, Martin 63, Mackie pen 84, MacPherson 88) Edinburgh City 0 Att 702 (45 Away)

We start our 6th home game in-a-row where its raining!!! Berwick on top in the opening salvos. And we go 1-0 up in the 6th minute – a nice pasage of play, Palmer spreading the ball out to Mackie, who’s far post cross find MacIver unmarked. Ross cushion-volleys the ball home from just inside the corner of the 6-yard box for his 12th goal of the season πŸ™‚ It’s all Berwick early doors. It quiets down a bit after the goal but all the highlights are for Berwick, and it’s 2-0 in the 29th minute. More good interplays leads to MacPherson finding a marauding Dunsmore on the right wing, whose low, whipped cross is cleared straight at MacIver, and the rebound finds Davidson 9 yards out, dead centre – he puts his foot through it and hammers the ball past the City Keeper. Brilliant stuff. Long way to go though. Edinburgh come back into the game near the end of the half, have the ball in the Berwick net (offside) but apart from that look pretty toothless. 2-0 at Half Time.

Berwick start the 2nd half knowing a nice professional performance is all that’s required. No dramas. Going to get to 60 and start with the subbage. And we get there without a single highlight πŸ™‚ Unfortunately just as I click Pause Palmer gets a knock – knee ligaments πŸ™ Bugger. Andy Turner on as a supporting CM. Also getting Seany-Boy back in up top – Martin out wide right as an AP, Davidson as the AM in the middle, MacIver coming off. Slowing the tempo down a bit. And it was 3-0 Berwick just under 3 minutes later πŸ™‚ Berwick playing triangles in front of the Edinburgh City back-10, eventually Turner moves the ball out to Mackie, whose cross finds Gerry Martin, coming from deep, to head home across the City Keeper. Really nice play again. City’s issue today is they are defending narrow – Mackie (2 assists) and Dunsmore (cross led to the 2nd goal) have been getting acres of space. 76th minute, Davidson’s had a good game but is looking a bit tired, Sutherland on for the last 15. Edinburgh’s day goes from bad to worse – down to 10 for the last 10, Watson’s foul on Sutherland bad enough for his 2nd yellow to be brandished. And straight from the resultant free kick we get a penalty as Slaven is also fouled from behind (When he was going nowhere). Now, I’ve not seen this before – MacDonald also sent off for a 2-footed challenge (Thought there was double-jeopardy with penalties??) – Edinburgh now down to 9 men!!. Mackie steps up and hammers it straight down the middle. 4-0 Berwick. Lets see if we can pile on the misery! Yes we can!! it’s 5-0 with 2 minutes of normal time left, MacPherson with his first for the club. Mackie’s corner is gotten to first by Slaven, whose header is cleared straight to macPherson, who scores coolly from 12 yards. Time for any more? No, times up. 5-0 Berwick. We’re nearly there boys!! The only bad point is Palmer – really hope that’s not his season done.

A mad day for goals in league 1 – 25 across the 5 matches – as the top 3 all do well, with Albion Rovers making it back into the play-off places with their win over Alloa. We have Montrose next up at theirs, on the back of their 5-1 loss versus Airdrie… 7 points clear, 12 points left to play for.

Play-off place confirmed πŸ™‚ We want a little bit more than that!

CAMERON PALMER – PULLED KNEE LIGAMENTS – 2/3 WEEKS – Phew!! He may even be back for the last game or two of the season.

Our U18’s won 5-1 at Inverness Athletic Res, goals from Connor McManus, Conor McLaughlin & a hat-trick from George Mitchell.

Our whole back 4 make the League 1 Team of the Week πŸ™‚

Ross MacIver & Sean Mackie are currently 1 & 2 for the League 1 Player of the Year if you go by Average Rating.

Our Reserves beat Lochar Thistle Res 2-0, Goals from George Mitchell & Conor McLaughlin.

The run-in being talked up – Airdrie have to win all 4 in all reality, beat us and hope we slip up in 2 of the other 3 games. Saturday could be the day as Dumbarton will be very tough opponents for Airdrie. Personally I think it’s Morton’s 2nd place to lose…

9th April 2022 – Montrose (A) – Ladbrokes League 1

And so we arrive in Montrose knowing, if results go well today could be the day we lift the Ladbrokes League 1 Title πŸ™‚ The Berwick fans will have their radios pinned to their ears, BBC Radio Scotland on the dial, waiting for news of events from Dumbarton and Stenhousemuir.

The only change from the Edinburgh City game is Andy Turner in for the crocked Cammy Palmer. Another professional performance please!!! Montrose start with the identical formation to us – 4-2-3-1 wide.

FT Montrose 1 (Russell pen 18) Berwick 2 (Turner 30, Martin 31) Att 543 (68 Away)

A dry start to today’s game (Obviously only rains in Northumberland). And it’s a quiet start, no goal in the first 10 (We’d scored in the first 10 in the last 4 League games). And shockingly Montrose are the first to get a real chance – a Penalty for a Dunsmore shove. Russell steps up and scores down the middle. 1-0 Montrose. But we get the equaliser in the 30th minute – a lovely build-up, MacIver to Davidson, finally slipped across to Turner who score a rocket of a daisy-cutter from 22 yards. 1-1. And it’s 2-1 Berwick within a minute. Prime Pulis, Bazza Maguire thumps a 60-yarder straight over the top of the Montrose defence, Big Kev Waugh found wanting, Martin runs on and scores the 1-on-1 well. A great response to going 1-0 down lads! Maguire nearly undoes the good work by being dispossessed by Hopkin, but Sinclair saves the day, staying big and saving well. Montrose showing more than any opponent for a while TBH. Martin nearly in again after a long Bazza Maguire free kick. 2-1 Berwick at Half Time.

Dow not having a good one so Gerry Martin out to the left as an AP(A), Sean Slaven on up top as a TM(A). The big news at half time is that Dumbarton are 2-0 up v Airdrie. Morton are 1-0 up at Stenhousemuir though. We’ve still got to do our job though. And we’ve somehow gotten to 80 minutes with very little happening at all. Sutherland on for Davidson, IF(A) on the left, Martin moves to Number 10 as the AP(A). And we are hearing reports of absolute scenes in Greenock as Stenhousemuir have come back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2!! We’re currently 10 minutes from the title! 87 minutes, McIntosh on for MacPherson. 3 minutes added time… Airdrie get a goal back, it’s 2-1 in Dumbarton… And it’s time’s up in Montrose. 2-1 Berwick, a ground-out result. And we go to the grounds…

BERWICK RANGERS ARE THE LADBROKES LEAGUE 1 CHAMPIONS!!!

It’s all over πŸ™‚ We now get ready for our 2022/23 campaign in the Ladbrokes Championship πŸ™‚ All to play for for both the play-off and relegation spots, Stenhousemuir’s win over Morton puts them 4 points behind Montrose with 3 to play, and at the top it’s 3 for Airdrie, Albion Rovers, Morton & Dumbarton, Edinburgh City realistically too far back now.

Back-to-Back Ladies & Gentleman πŸ™‚ We are also now 19 games unbeaten in the League.

The initial budget is over double what we are currently spending (Plus I need to winnow the wheat from the chaff a bit), and an Β£80k transfer budget should be enough, but it’s a fair-old step up in class. It will be the first time Berwick have been in the 2nd tier since the 1980/81 season.

We’ve got Β£157k coming our way for the title, so we should end the season at about Β£550k in the black.

Our U18’s beat Bo’ness Utd Res 2-0, goals from Thomas Dempsie & Archie Gardiner.

Our Reserves drew 0-0 with Stranraer Res.

Ross Sinclair & Barry Maguire make the League 1 Team of the Week.

16th April 2022 – Airdrie (A) – Ladbrokes League 1

We travel to Airdrie with the league already in our back pocket as we look to disrupt the play-off picture.

We go back to the 4-1-2-3 DM for a game with MacIver out, suspended for Yellows.Davidson starts as the CM(A), MacPherson the BWM(S) and Turner the DLP(D) at DM. McLaughlin starts what will most probably be his last game for the club (68 games, 11 goals, 10 assists, 4 POM). Mackie set to attack down the left. Slaven starts up top. Airdrie start with a 4-4-1-1; a very young looking team indeed.

FT Airdrie 1 (Carrick 57) Berwick 1 (Dow 20) Att 968 (99 Away)

It’s a drizzly April afternoon today in Airdrie, and its an unremarkable start, Airdrie with the better of the early exchanges. But it’s Berwick who take the lead in the 20th minute. A bit of an odd one, a number of clearances from an initial set piece ends up with CD Jordan Bow of all people floating a cross to Cammy Dow at the back post, whose header hits the post and trickles in for his 8th of the season. 1-0 Berwick. A pretty even game all-told. 1-0 Berwick at Half Time.

Martin on for McLaughlin at half time, playing him as a Raumdeuter, seeing if he can be a real nuisance in the pockets of space afforded him. A good start to the half – Slaven has had a couple of opportunities now to get a goal. Airdrie pull it back to 1-1 in the 57th minute – definitely a whiff of offside as Young pulls back to Carrick to tap in. McManus on for Davidson, like-for-like. McIntosh for MacPherson for the last 15. Airdrie coming at us in waves now, looking more likely to get a result as I drop the lines and pace a bit. Sinclair keeping us in it a bit here. But we see it out. 1-1 it finished.

Really tight for the play-off places – 1 point separating 4 teams as Airdrie drop out of the play-off places. Alloa need to win both their last 2 games to stand any chance of even a relegation play-off, and Stenhousemuir look likely to be playing one of Stirling, Queen’s Park, Elgin or Cowdenbeath. For the teams who compete in the play-offs the final opponent looks likely to be Ayr, as St. Johnstone have already been relegated.

Our U18’s beat Mid Annandale Res 4-0, all 4 goals from Ross MacIver πŸ™‚

Ross Sinclair makes the League 1 Team of the Week (Again – 9th time this season, 6.99 Av in the league, 7.01 overall)

Our Reserves beat Ormiston Res 4-2 – Goals from Lewis Barr, Thomas Dempsie, Big Rod Nanitelamio & Conor McLaughlin.

Our takeover’s not going well – bet Len wants more money now we’ve gone up πŸ™‚

Indeed, it’s collapsed – maybe all takeovers in the North-East are doomed to failure… Let’s see what Len has to say.

Bet he wants a bit of Championship action.

23rd April 2022 – Albion Rovers (H) – Ladbrokes League 1

We welcome Albion Rovers to Shielfield Park for our last home game of the season, the title celebrations underway. However it’s a pivotal day for a lot of clubs, and Albion Rovers could secure a play-off place with a win. It shows how mad the League has been this season when nobody has secured a play-off place yet, 35/36 games gone…

Jordan Bow is suspended for yellows, so Morgyn Neill comes in for most probably his last game with the club. Gerry Martin back up top as MacIver is back after his suspension. Cammy Palmer back on the bench πŸ™‚ Albion Rovers go with a 4-5-1.

FT Berwick 3 (Dow 3, Miller o.g. 7, Davidson 77) Albion Rovers 1 (Fisher 17) Att 1,016 (38 Away)

Over 1,000 fans expected in the ground today for our last match at home this season, hopefully we can put on a decent show. And do my eyes deceive me – shadows? Is that that yellow thing in the sjy somebody told me about? Spring has sprung in the North East. And the boys obviously love it as we go 1-0 up inside 3 minutes. Lovely interplay, MacPherson turns a Rovers defender on the edge of the area, slips a ball to Dow who powers towards the edge of the area and places a shot right footed top left bins. A sumptuous effort. 1-0 Berwick. And it’s 2-0 before 7:00 comes on the clock! More beautiful passing play, Dow slipping in DLF(A) Martin with his back to goal. He turns, dinks a little curler just inside the left-hand upright, the ball hits the post, goes back across the line, hits the Keeper Miller on the back of the legs and goes in. Harsh, 2-0 Berwick. It’s a party! But Albion get one back in the 17th minute, a 25-yarder from Fisher after a few missed tackles. Game on. A quiet-enough end to the half, a couple of chances going close, 2-1 Berwick at Half Time.

A really quiet start to the half, nothing as of 60 minutes. Lewis Faulds on for Mackie. 67th minute, MacIver hits the point of the bar and post. But we (hopefully) finish it in the 77th minute. A really nice break, ending with Martin slipping a ball inside to Davidson, who finishes well from just outside the box. 3-1. Last 5, Cammy Palmer on for Davidson, Tom Sutherland for MacIver. And it’s finished 3-1 Berwick. Disrupting the play-off picture πŸ™‚

It’s even closer for the play-off places now as somehow Albion Rovers stay 2nd, Dumbarton getting thumped by Alloa (Who still have a chance at the relegation play off), Morton losing to Edinburgh City and Airdrie only getting a point versus Stenhousemuir. It’s getting a bit exciting!!

Our U18’s beat Tweedmouth Res 5-0, goals from Archie Gardiner, Jack Leitch, George Mitchell, Conor McLaughlin & Lewis Barr.

Our Reserves beat Hillfield Swifts Reserves 4-1, goals from George Mitchell and a hat-trick from Conor McLaughlin.

30th April 2022 – Forfar (A) – Ladbrokes League 1

And so we travel to Forfar for our last game of the season for a dead rubber. I’m shocked we’ve ended up winning this division as easily as we have TBH – put me back at the end of October and I would have said playoffs at best the way we were playing, but going undefeated for 21 games will propel you up the league, especially when all the other teams are so inconsistent. Albion Rovers v Airdrie will be the pick of the games today; a loss for either could mean dropping out of the playoffs on the last day, and for teams the size of Morton or Airdrie (Wage bills Β£444k & Β£395k v our Β£206k/annum) its could be disastrous spending another season in the 3rd tier.

MacPherson playing as Half Back today as Palmer comes back in as a CM(A), Davidson as a DLP(S). Bow back in after his suspension. Let’s end the season well. Forfar start with a 4-4-1-1.

FT Forfar 3 (McBride 11, Galantes 53, 75) Berwick 3 (Palmer 15, Martin 30, Mackie pen 69) Att 723 (157 Away)

It’s a rainy end to a particularly wet season today in Angus. Berwick on the front foot early on, as has been our calling card recently. Forfar take the lead in the 11th minute though, McBride with his 1st of the season (!) from a McGowan corner. The lead lasted 4 minutes πŸ™‚ A Martin free kick dinked over the defence, Palmer at the back post to side-foot home on the half volley. The Forfar keeper has made some outstanding saves already today, and we’re only just out of the first 15 minutes. And it was 2-1 Berwick in the 30th minute – calamity for goalscorer (and birthday boy apparently) McBride, who dwells on the ball, is dispossessed by Gerry Martin, who strides in on goal and slams the ball in for his 9th of the season. A good reply boys. From a stats-perspective its the most dominant we’ve been in a while, but Forfar look really dangerous from set pieces. We go in 2-1 up.

I’ll give Cammy Palmer another 15 minutes, don’t want another injury even on the last day of the season. We have the ball in the net in the 48th minute, Dow on the rebound from a corner, but he’s offside. Forfar get the equaliser in the 53rd minute, all from a Sinclair fumble – the ball eventually end up with Galantes, who controls and finishes from 8 yards. Poor. MacPherson off for Turner, Palmer for McIntosh, Turner to DLP(D) at DM, McIntosh BWM(S). 69th minute, Penalty Berwick, MacIver shoved by Peggie. Mackie steps up and slots it home low to the Keeper’s right. He runs away and gives it the Robin Hood. 3-2 Berwick. A good one for the neutrals. 75th minute and its 3-3, Galantes again, this time from just inside the area. FFS, sort it out!! Sutherland on for Dow for the last 15. Time runs down though and it finishes 3-3. Unbeaten for the last 6 months of the season in the League πŸ™‚

Alloa escape the drop (at the moment) at the expense of Stenhousemuir, who (As I predicted) go straight back down.Dumbarton are the biggest losers in the play-off hunt, Edinburgh City consigning them to another year in League 1. The play-offs will be very interesting indeed. Β£157k received, the bank balance stands at Β£576k πŸ™‚

I’m going to leave it there – We are at 1st May so next time will be the League 1 post-season 21/22 and the Championship pre-season 22/23 (Which might be early and short due to Qatar 2022, can’t remember how that worked in FM19). I leave you with the Key Highlights from the games this month. See you soon.

April 2022 Key Highlights

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