Today we will have 4 Betfred group matches, followed by our first 2nd-tier League match since the 1980-81 season.
We go straight into the action with a trip to Motherwell.
9th July 2022 – Motherwell (A) – Betfred Cup Group F
We make the 97 mile journey West to face Premiership Motherwell in the most difficult tie we could have gotten first up. They finished 8th in the Prem last season.
We go tried and tested, 4-1-2-3, only real changes since the end of last season being Carrick up top and Nicolson at the back. Trying to play to our Cohesion. Motherwell start with a 4-5-1.
FT Motherwell 3 (Anderson 15, 74, Sinclair o.g. 37) Berwick 0 Att 3,774 (225 Away)
We start today in our light blue shirt/dark blue short strip versus the Yellow and White of Motherwell. And its a decent enough start, though Motherwell look so quick compared to us. And Motherwell take the lead in the 15th minute, a long ball unlocking Anderson, who breaks the offside trap to score well from 12 yards. Apart from the goal we look pretty good. Then one of those ridiculous goals for Motherwell. Turnbull hits one from 30 yards that hits the bar, hits Sinclair on the back of the leg and dribbles in. Whatever. 2-0 Motherwell at Half Time.
Marku on for Davidson at half time, Turner back to Half back, Marku the playmaker (AP(A)). Slaven on for Carrick on 60 minutes. 3-0 in the 74th, Anderson again getting on the end of a free kick to head home. 80 minutes, McManus on for Palmer. And it finished 3-0, stats-wise it was a lot closer.
Hamilton beat Stranraer 6-0 in the other game… Stranraer next up.
- 23yo Portuguese AMR
- 5ft 5in
- Joins on a free from Livingston, after starting his career with Swansea
- IRL he’s back in Portugal with SF Damaiense in the lower leagues
Causso Darame joins on a free as the backup AMR to Ross MacIver. He’s pretty sharp, and I hope he can do a job when called upon. 4.5* PA as well, maybe not at 23 but we will see if playing time helps him at all.
There have been some games on the Wednesday – So we need to win all our games to qualify really – 9 points should do it. Also look at the state of this result in Group C:
5-1 On to go down… Need to pick up points consistently against Ayr, QotS & Clyde I think. Anything else will be a bonus.
16th July 2022 – Stranraer (H) – Betfred Cup Group F
We welcome Stranraer to Shielfield Park. They finished 6th in League 2 last season, and have let in 8 without scoring in their first 2 IRN-BRU group games.
We go to the 4-2-3-1 Wide against the supposedly weaker opponent. Davidson as the Playmaker in the number 10 slot, Palmer & MacPherson in Centre Mid. We are also going more positive. Stranraer start with a 5-2-3 WB Wide – an interesting clash of styles here I think.
FT Berwick 4 (Davidson 10, 58, MacIver 12, Dow 83) Stranraer 0 Att 597 (42 Away)
Back in our usual Amber & Black today as we start on the front foot. However Stranraer nearly take the lead in the 5th minute from a deep free kick. The highlight continued and we nearly went up the other end and scored, Dow’s shot being saved well. Lots of chances early on, and we take the lead in the 10th minute – A Sean Mackie free kick to the far post headed in by Mark Davidson. 1-0 Berwick. And it’s 2-0 2 minutes later – nice build-up, a cross from Dow finds MacIver at the far post, whose just-off-half-volley thundered home. A beautiful goal. Much better lads!!. A bit quieter after the 2nd goal, we go at half-time in 2-0 to the good.
Stranraer down to 10 men in the 48th minute – Gallagher with a bad challenge on Cammy Palmer. 58th minute, 3-0, lots of Berwick pressure ending with a Davidson goal from 12 yards that he knew little about – it was a deflection from a Stranraer clearance straight into the open goal. Subbage – Darame for MacIver & Faulds for Mackie. Davidson looking for his hat-trick as he knows he’s getting subbed soon. 20 left, Davidson off for Marku, like for like. Pretty constant highlights now, and it was 4-0 in the 83rd minute – Cammy Dow finishing off a Cameron MacPherson cross at the back post with a lovely left-foot volley. It finished 4-0, a professional performance.
The goals are flying in this year in the Betfred.
We have the last 2 group games in the next 7 days – Hamilton first at home, followed by Queen’s Park away.
20th July 2022 – Hamilton (H) – Betfred Cup Group F
We welcome newly relegated Hamilton to Berwick this evening knowing the winner should qualify out of the group for the next round. They are pretty much a Premiership club still with a Premiership wage bill – only 3 players in their 1st team squad are on under £500/wk. As such we only have a small chance of doing this IMO.
Back to the more defensively-sound 4-1-2-3 Wide – Turner back as the DLP, Davidson & Palmer the more forward-minded midfielders. Slaven starts as the outlet up top. Again trying for a bit of Cohesion more than anything else. Hamilton start with the mirror formation – 4-2-3-1 Wide. Expecting a difficult evening.
FT Berwick 1 (Slaven 90+2) Hamilton 5 (Miller 14, 18, 47, Dembele 63, Keatings 65) Att 813 (264 Away)
Hamilton on the front foot at the start of the game, and it was 1-0 in the 14th minute, Miller with a 25-yarder from a corner… 2-0 in the 18th, same player, this time on his own at the far post… A bit quieter for a while but Hamilton completely on top, and then Hamilton get a penalty in the 43rd, and Davidson gets sent off for a perfectly good tackle – Get fucked game. Walking away before I through the monitor out of the window. Palmer drops back to DM as well. Keatings takes the penalty… And its saved brilliantly by Sinclair! Justice. 2-0 Hamilton at Half Time.
47th minute, 3-0, Miller with his hat-trick, just outside the box this time. Fuck all we can do about this. 4-0 in the 63rd, Dembele with a 12-yard header. 5-0 in the 65th, Keatings from 15 yards. Sutherland on for Dow, MacPherson for MacIver. Going narrow to try and stem the flow because this is ridiculous. And it was really until injury time, when Sean Slaven got his first of the season – A near-post header from a Mackie corner. 5-1. Thank fuck that’s over…
So that competition is over – a meaningless game versus Queen’s Park to finish up.
We’ve just signed another scout as well as we have a space – Lee Robinson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Robinson_(footballer)), 36, former Rangers & Dunfermline Goalkeeper – 11 & 12 Judging Ability & Potential!! He’s a shit-hot GK Coach as well, might be asking him to change to that next year!
23rd July 2022 – Queen’s Park (A) – Betfred Cup Group F
We make the trip to Glasgow for a dead rubber this afternoon. They moved to Lesser Hampden after the SFA bought Hampden Park from the club. They are back in League 2 this season after promotion from the Lowland League last season.
Back to the more attacking 4-2-3-1 – Sutherland as AP at No. 10 in place of Davidson who is suspended after his Red last game. MacPherson & Palmer make up the Central Midfield. Queen’s Park start with the exact same formation.
FT Queen’s Park 1 (MacLennan 51) Berwick 2 (Slaven 28, pen 87) Att 592 (99 Away)
The Queen’s Park guys look knackered, plus they are starting an injured player on the left wing. It’s a stalemate until Sean Slaven makes it 1-0 in the 28th minute. A Mackie free kick hit the wall, straight back to him, and the following pass found Sean unmarked near the front post to strike home well. Berwick now well on top, we had the ball in the net again in the 32nd minute, Slaven again, but disallowed for pushing. A solid half of footbal, 1-0 Berwick at the break.
Causso Darame on for MacIver at Half Time. Going positive as well. 1-1 out of nowhere in the 51st minute, direct free kick by MacLennan, Sinclair beaten at his near post. Dow and Palmer off, Marku and Turner on, Sutherland out to the left wing, Marku into Centre Mid as part of a 3 as the AP(A). Lots of pressure on the Queen’s Park back line but they are back behind the ball. Penalties maybe? Yes, but in the 87th minute, to Berwick – Darame pushed when jostling for a header. He steps up to take… and score well down low to the Keeper’s right. 2-1 Berwick. Into Injury time, Slaven should have had his hat-trick, blasting at the Keeper when 1-on-1. And in the 94th minute MacPherson gets sent off for a 2nd yellow… 2-1 Berwick at Full Time.
£29k in the bank for a 3rd-place finish in the group.
So that’s the pre-league season done – Looking at the Salary per Annum for the Betfred we sit 24th – There are 22 teams in the top two divisions. We (£231k/annum) are bottom of the Championship, followed by Queen of the South (£478k, 2x our budget) and Clyde (£548k)… It’s going to be a tough old season.
PLAYER LEAVING – LOAN
Big Rod Nanitelamio goes off to Stranraer on loan until the new year. 2.5* CA, our 4th choice centre-back, he wasn’t going to get the game time so for the sake of his career I’ve let him go off to League 2 for some matches.
Our U18’s beat Raith U18’s 4-3, goals from Thomas Dempsie, James Christie & Tom Sutherland (2).
30th July 2022 – Falkirk (H) – Ladbrokes Championship
We welcome Falkirk to Shielfield Park for Berwick’s first match in the 2nd tier of Scottish football in over 40 years. Falkirk have been a Championship side since 2010, but finished 2nd last year so this is a majorly tough game to be starting with. It was an amazingly up-and-down Betfred campaign, so I’m just looking for a little bit of fire from the lads today, to show we’re not hopelessly out of our depth.
Palmer is out after yellows from last season (Picked up on the last day) so Davidson (Who is under a transfer bid from Ross County currently) plays as a CM(A), MacPherson the holding BWM(S), Turner the DLP(D) at DM. Giving Jordan Bow a go with Harry Nicolson – Barry Maguire didn’t cover himself in glory in the Betfred and Bow is rated our 2nd best Centre Back by CA. Falkirk start with the identical formation, 4-1-2-3 DM Wide.
FT Berwick 4 (Davidson 54, MacPherson 56, Slaven 65, McManus 84) Falkirk 0 Att 1,944 (864 Away)
It’s a lovely getting-later-in-the-summer-in-the-north in Berwick for this historic game. A tight start though, no highlights for the first 20 minutes. Falkirk are really pressing hard, it’s difficult getting time on the ball by the looks of it. 0-0 at Half Time, pleased with the stats and that we’re definitely not being overrun.
Just under 2,000 people in Shielfield Park today!! Hopefully these decent-sized crowds continue, the gate money will help us massively this season. I’ve turned the pressing up myself, Counter Press with Counter, Extremely Urgent to try and counter what Falkirk are doing. A few more highlights early on in the half, and in the 54th minute Mark Davidson made it 1-0 with a scorcher from just outside the ‘D’. A bit of ping-pong on the edge of the Falkirk area and the ball made its way from MacPherson to Turner, who slipped the ball to Davidson. he took a touch and thundered it home past a static Falkirk Keeper. 2 minutes later and a very similar goal, but this time to MacPherson! If anything this one a bit further out. Some nice play to get the ball forward, held up by Slaven, ball off to Davidson, passed across to MacPherson, who gets it out of his feet and hits it from 25 yards, just right of centre, top left bins. An amazing strike! 2-0 Berwick. And in the 65th minute we made it 3-0!!. MacIver gets some time just inside the Berwick half, made his way forward and inside for 30 yards unchallenged, hit an early pinpoint pass that found Slaven alone up top, who controlled with his thigh and fired home from 12 yards, wheeling off to celebrate with the fans. An amazing second half lads!!! 75 gone, MacPherson off, McManus on, Turner to Half Back, Davidson the DLP(S) in Centre Mid, McManus the Attacking CM. 4-0 in the 84th!!! Lots of time on the ball now as Falkirk tire, Slaven holding the ball up well agin, slips the ball to an overlapping Mackie, whose gorgeous cross finds McManus just on the edge of the 6-yard box, and he heads home well. Wow, 4 different scorers today (so far). Last 5, Slaven & MacIver off for Carrick & Darame. 5 shots, all on target, 4 goals!!! And that’s how it finished. This Championship stuff is easy, isn’t it 🙂 🙂 🙂
Top of the table 🙂 🙂 🙂 At least we can say we’ve been top of the Championship this season. QotS with a big point versus Hamilton.
So that’s July 2022 done for matches. We’ve been humbled and been the humbler this month, but this last game gives me hope that we could do a bit better than previously though in the Championship. I think its a 3-or-4 season job to get up to the Premiership, but increased gate and increased prize-money should keep Berwick with a decent bank-balance whilst gaining reputation. We’re just below £500k in the bank – £90 in Gate this month, some of that from the Motherwell game away but 2,000 gates at home will keep that ticking up nicely.
Dundee get £2k after that last game as Andy Turner has made it to 30 league games for Berwick.
Wow – 2 of those a month and even if we max out our Budget (£8.3k, currently at £5k) our wages are covered by our gate receipts!!
Also another 115 season tickets sold compared to last season – Up 65% or so.
So we have 6 games in August – Don’t think the IRN-BRU 2nd round is in August as well, otherwise possibly 7 if we beat either Gretna or Whitehill, both Lowland League teams, in the 1st round. Dunfermline & Partick in close order, both massive games with Partick spending the most out of any team in the Championship on wages, £1.22M versus our £230k (Falkirk 4th with £837k, Dunfermline 5th at £809k) followed by 2 games we’ve got to do well in the season – Clyde (8th, £590k) and QotS (9th, £478k) before finally playing our old senior affiliate Dundee (3rd, £1.13M)…
Looking at the last 4 seasons in the championship 42 points would get you 8th in any of those season (Last year Ayr got 41 and were 9th and in the play-off versus Albion Rovers). 37 points would have been enough the year before that, then 35, then 33, so it’s getting tougher season on season. We’re 3 points to towards safety anyway 🙂
Finally here are the key highlights from our games in July. See you soon.