Selkirk’s WAG back on form, but shaky moments remain

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Selkirk 3

Berwick Rangers Reserves 2

EoS FIRST DIVISION

KENNY PATERSON reports from Yarrow Park

THEY are never likely to be as formidable as the famous SAS – Shearer and Sutton – strike partnership of the mid 1990s, but Selkirk have got their own WAG – Watt and Gibson – which could yet fire the club to a successful season.

Both attackers found the net and were impressive in a fine win against high-flying Berwick Rangers Reserves, giving the Yarrow Park men their third win on the bounce.

The return to form of his side left Selkirk manager Mike McKinnon happier than a mealworm in an I’m a Celebrity bushtucker trial with Helen Flanagan.

In particular, he paid tribute to Watt and Gibson. McKinnon said: “There were some brilliant performances, especially Jamie Gibson.

“The laddie runs and runs and runs, never stops working, and deservedly got his goal.

“Jonny is a different player from last season, when he stepped up from amateur football.

“He also had a major operation on his stomach last year. He wasn’t a well laddie, but he has come back stronger and is really learning.”

Berwick came to Selkirk having suffered only one defeat in the league, and scored on average over three goals a game.

There was plenty of pace about the young side, but the homesters look a completely different team from the one humiliated 7-0 at Lothian Thistle last month.

And having dominated possession and territory in the early stages, Selkirk deservedly took the lead on 25 minutes.

Watt burst down the right wing before firing a tantalising cross into the penalty box which Gibson met. His shot was blocked well by Grant Sandison, but unfortunately for the Rangers stopper the ball rolled into the path of Selkirk’s Michael Holness, who tapped home.

Five minutes later, Berwick failed to clear their box and Watt found the bottom corner of the net with a close-range shot for his ninth goal of the season.

In between the two goals, Berwick top scorer Josh Morris had two great chances to level the match, firstly being denied by the post and then seeing his delicate lob bounce just wide.

Selkirk brought on Lee Stephen at half-time for Bryan Tait, and the dynamic utility player put in a great shift, bearing in mind he was still recovering from a chest infection.

However, Stephen was helpless as Selkirk’s ability to not just shoot themselves in the foot but blow it completely off resurfaced.

David Battle, who otherwise put in a typically industrious showing, lost the ball 25 yards out, allowing Kenny O’Brien to set up centre back Jonathon Fairbairn to calmly curl the ball into the bottom corner on 55 minutes.

Then, just three minutes later, substitute Dean Carse burst through the middle of the Souters’ defence, and although his shot was saved by John Dodds, the ball ricocheted into the path of Morris for his 10th – and surely easiest – First Division strike.

But those expecting Selkirk to succumb to a fifth league loss were in for a shock.

McKinnon’s men continued to play at high intensity, with Ryan McManus, Stephen and Gibson in particular giving the Rangers’ midfield little time to think.

It was Gibson who grabbed the winning goal with 21 minutes remaining, combining power to brush off the challenge of Shaun Ford, and then a delicate touch to deftly lob Sandison.

Asked if Selkirk can still gain promotion, McKinnon said: “Absolutely. We had a poor start, but we have now got some momentum with three wins on the bounce.”

Selkirk: J. Dodds, D. Johnson, B. Milven, J. Higginbottom, K. Munro, B. Tait (L. Stephen 45), M. Holness (R. Pepper 86), R. McManus, J. Gibson, J. Watt (A. Butters 78), D. Battle.