Football: Toon pay heavy price for 1-1 Berwick draw

PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS('( DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S JORDON BROWN SCRAPS FOR THE BALL
PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS('( DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S JORDON BROWN SCRAPS FOR THE BALL

Peterhead fought back from a goal down at the interval to salvage a point but it was achieved at a cost, writes Jim Irving.

David Cox was stretchered from the ground and taken to hospital in an ambulance after sustaining a foot injury and Fraser McLaren sent off, further depleting Jim McInally’s options.

PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS('( DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S RORY MCALLISTER LEVELS FROM THE PENALTY SPOT

PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS('( DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S RORY MCALLISTER LEVELS FROM THE PENALTY SPOT

The squad was down to the bare bones before the game even started with Ryan McGeever on a sparse looking bench despite being ill all week where he was joined by coach Craig Tully who was listed as a Trialist, alongside the rarely used Kevin Buchan.

After a disappointing draw with Clyde in their last match, a win was in the Blue Toon sights and they could have got off to a flyer in the 10th minute when an ambitious attempt at a pass back from the Berwick midfield fell short and McLaren raced forward only to be denied by a touch around the post by Paul Grant.

The Borderers came to Balmoor without a win since dumping their hosts out of the Scottish Cup at the start of the month but rarely looked fazed and went in front with their first attempt on goal after 18 minutes.

Lee Currie, who was to be involved in all the major incidents, sent over a corner kick from the left, Michael Dunlop headed goalward but Graeme Sharp blocked the ball on the line with his chest by the post.

PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS('( DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S FRASER MCLAREN IS SHOWN RED

PETERHEAD V BERWICK RANGERS('( DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S FRASER MCLAREN IS SHOWN RED

However, the ball bounced only as far as Stephen Tulloch who powered a shot high into the net from the corner of the six yard box.

Ten minutes before the break Cox crumpled to the ground as he came down from an aerial challenge for the ball and landed awkwardly.

It looked innocuous but Cox, one of Peterhead’s lynchpins, was unable to continue and was stretchered around the pitch with what was later diagnosed as a broken metatarsal.

His replacement, Buchan almost made an instant impact with a 20 yard effort saved in spectacular fashion by Grant.

PETERHEAD V CELTIC'(DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S MANAGER JIM McINALLY LOOKS ON.

PETERHEAD V CELTIC'(DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S MANAGER JIM McINALLY LOOKS ON.

The second half started in promising fashion for Peterhead and they were level six minutes after the re-start.

Creative midfielder Jordon Brown, who put himself about well, strode towards the penalty area but a metre in his progress was halted as Currie hung out a leg which sent him tumbling.

Rory McAllister, on one of his quieter days, made an immaculate job of sending Grant the wrong way from the spot.

However, the good news was short lived as the Blue Toon were a man down within minutes.

McLaren and Currie went for a 50:50 ball midway inside the Peterhead half.

The former Berwick striker looked to have taken his eye off the ball at the last moment and clattered into player rather than ball and the well place referee immediately flashed a red card to add to the mounting list of dismissals already this season.

With a man advantage, predictably the visitors carved out several chances to win the game.

They were undoubtedly missing top scorer Darren Lavery and squandered those that they created although it took a magnificent save from Graeme Smith to deny a 25 yard free kick from full back Dean Hoskins.

Buchan stabbed a shot that was easily gathered by Grant as the match drew to a close but a draw was a fair result, and given the circumstances, probably acceptable to the Blue Toon.

After the match McInally said: “I still think Berwick are a decent team but I thought for us to be so poor in the first half and still be so close to them shows my players exactly what they can be if they step up to the mark.

“Our attitude in the second half was totally different from the first.

“I thought we were more determined from the start of the second half and they all dug in brilliantly after the sending off. Sadly, we’re getting used to it.”

Berwick boss Ian Little said: “I think we had a good couple of chances to win the game.

“But overall in the game we should have done enough.

“I though we had two or three chances to sneak it, especially when they went down to 10 men, but a point is always always good when you come up here.

“I didn’t think we capitalised on the red card. I think we played away but not well enough.”

Peterhead: Smith, Sharp, McCann, Noble, Gilfillan, Cowie, Cox (Buchan 35), Redman, McAllister, Brown (McGeever 89), McLaren.

Unused: Jarvie (gk), Trialist.

Referee – Alan Newland

Attendance – 503