Caledonian Braves share the spoils with Spartans after a 1-1 draw
It was back to Alliance Park for Caledonian Braves on Saturday as they took on 3rd placed Spartans. Braves were hoping to bounce back after their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Rangers B last time out. Braves had already played, and beaten, Spartans earlier in the season. However, Saturday’s match would not end in the same celebrations as both teams played out a 1-1 draw.
Saturday’s team saw Cameron Breadner serve the first of his two-game ban. This saw Gavin Lachlan return to the starting lineup in a holding role, with Luke Main taking Breadner’s number 10 role for the afternoon. Matthew Henderson also dropped out at left back with Jamie Walker replacing him. Still unavailable for selection was captain Ross Lindsay, Cole Starrs, Jamie Watson and John Guthrie.
After the constant midweek downpour in Lanarkshire, you would have been forgiven for bringing flippers or a boat to Saturday’s game. Thankfully, the weather stayed dry all morning and it turned out a lovely autumnal day for a game of football. The sun was high in a clear sky as the referee got the game underway.
It was a cagey affair in the opening exchanges as both teams looked to start with high intensity and get in the faces of each other. This resulted in the game being quite start-stop with the referee picking up on any contact whatsoever, to both managers frustrations.
The first real chance of the game came when Spartans won a corner, whipped a vicious ball into the penalty spot where their defender rose highest to head it narrowly over Chris Henry’s crossbar. This would soon prove to be a precursor as to what was to come for Braves. Not long after that chance, the same thing happened again in almost identical fashion. This time however, the defender crashed his glancing header back off the crossbar. The ball dropped and Brave’s players dived in its way and somehow eventually stopped it from crossing the line.
Caledonian Braves didn’t really create any clear-cut chances in the first half apart from a few in-direct free-kicks that were easily dealt with.
The second half brought everything the first half didn’t have, goals and action.
Sadly, the first flashpoint in the half was the injury to Jack McDowall. The big Braves centre half landed awkwardly and hurt his knee, requiring lengthy treatment and having to be replaced by Scott Forrester.
The first main chance of the half was an in-direct free-kick 25 yards out. The Spartans player floated the ball to the back post where Sean Brown rose highest to send the visitors 1-0 up having played 56 minutes. Back post headers seem to be Braves Achilles heel this season. Chris Henry might also feel he could have done better with the Spartans attempt.
However, Braves never get flustered when going behind and this proved to be true again six minutes later. Some great play from Luke Main down the right saw him spin and lay-off Rhys Armstrong who was arriving late at the edge of the box unmarked. Armstrong coolly slotted the ball beyond the Spartans keeper, to make it 1-1 and 17 goals and assists this season in 18 games for the young midfielder.
From here the game opened up a bit and both teams started to create chances more frequently. First Spartans had an effort from around 25 yards out. Curling the ball to the back post looking to try and catch out Chris Henry but it sailed wide.
As the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped, the heat in the game was only rising. Ricky Waddell was pulled up for dissent after raging at one of the referees decisions against his team, earning himself a yellow card for his troubles.
Braves then had a great chance to go ahead after Gavin Lachlan played in Luke Main at the edge of the box, his first touch brilliantly set him in on goal, but he poked his chance high over the bar. Not long after Rhys Armstrong sent in a floated corner from which Lachlan rose highest but sent his header narrowly past the back post.
Braves had another great chance shortly after. Spartans’ half cleared it to Gavin Lachlan, his shot was deflected high into the box eventually falling to the head of Scott Forrester who put his chance over the bar. Looking back, he might feel he could have done better as he is usually so prolific in the air.
The last chance of the game came deep into added time. Jack Brown played Rhys Armstrong in down the line, the Spartans full back passed it to the centre half, Rhys Armstrong continued to press intensely and as the defender went to clear the ball it hit Armstrong in the midriff, he controlled it and smashed it home. However, the referee adjudged Rhys Armstrong to have handled the ball as he controlled it, so the goal was disallowed. With that the game was called to an end and both teams would go home with a point.
Caledonian Braves can feel inspired that they didn’t crumble going behind to Spartans and are now undefeated in two games against them, a team that are challenging for the title. Ricky Waddell will be happy with some aspects of the performance but frustrated as well. At times they were wasteful in possession and didn’t get the ball down and play as much as they usually do, also losing a goal from a back post header again seems to be a re-occurring issue.
Next up for the Braves is another away trip, this time to Cumbernauld Colts on Saturday 6th November at 3pm.