A quickfire opening ten minutes set the tone as Caledonian Braves ran out 4-0 victors against a Kennoway Star Hearts side in the South Challenge Cup.
Earlier in the week the tragic news broke of the passing of beloved academy coach and dear friend, Chris Divers. Before kick off the referee gathered both sets of players at the centre circle to honour Chris’s life with a minutes applause. Kennoway paid an incredibly thoughtful tribute by presenting our captain for the day, Jamie Walker, with a beautiful flower wreath and trophy inscribed ‘in friendship’. The minutes applause was observed by all inside the ground and the club thanks Kennoway for their amazing gifts.
Saturday’s team saw Gavin Lachlan return to the bench after a spell with injury, Scott Forrester dropped to the bench which saw Jack Brown return at right back. Mathew Henderson was set for his debut, starting at left back after joining on loan from Queen of the South. Still unavailable for selection was captain Ross Lindsay, Cole Starrs, Jamie Watson and John Guthrie.
With the cold autumnal weather creeping in and the floodlights flickering to life at 3pm, everyone was hoping for a fast start to fire things up. That is what they got. Within three minutes Braves were ahead, a blistering Braves attack saw the ball deflected wide for the first corner of the game. With Rhys Armstrong’s delivery you only need one chance, he swung the ball directly onto Jack McDowall’s towering head. The big centre back rose highest and powered the ball into the back of the net, 1-0 Braves.
Directly from kick off Braves went after Kennoway again, winning the ball back and popping it around sharply. Jack Duncan got his head up and played an arrow of a pass, splitting the away sides midfield and defence straight through the middle. The pass found Jamie Walker who picked the ball up and fired it past the keeper from 25 yards, 2-0 Braves. A brilliant goal all round.
Ricky Waddell didn’t let his side let up as he demanded they keep the high intensity going, and a few minutes later it paid off. Jamie Walker picked up the ball wide right, danced into the Kennoway box looking to get a shot away. Instead, the ball fell to Rhys Armstrong who cut onto his left foot and fired it home high into the net. 3-0 Braves and only ten minutes gone.
From here you could say Braves got sloppy and started to take their foot off the pedal and players were trying shots from range, the high intensity of the opening ten minutes seemed to quickly disappear into a scrappy 20-minute period of the match. The most notable chance coming when Jamie Walker tried his luck with a free kick on the edge of the box. However, he sent it flying over the bar and behind for a goal kick.
Half time came and without ever really being troubled Braves deservedly found themselves three goals up.
No changes at the break for Braves as the referee got us underway for the second half.
It wasn’t quite the three minutes of the opening half but after seven minutes Braves increased their lead. A great ball from Mathew Henderson found Jamie Walker out wide right, he cut inside his man brilliantly, opened his body as if he was going to curl it to the far post but instead fired it low to the near, catching the Kennoway keeper out. 4-0 Braves and the second of the game for Walker.
Two minutes later Luke Main picked the ball up and played a fantastic pass to Zac Butterworth, the tricky winger left his man trailing and fired a shot narrowly over the bar.
With the game looking out of sight Ricky Waddell decided to freshen things up as he made a double substitution. Off came Cameron Breadner and Luke Main, for Yacine Bloualem and Gavin Lachlan. Waddell will be pleased to see Lachlan returning and getting half an hour after a few weeks out through injury.
The game went quiet again in terms of real chances, Braves dominated the ball but were lacking a cutting edge in the final third at times throughout the second half.
With 20 minutes to go Rhys Armstrong was replaced by Amaury Testa. Testa was immediately involved as he picked up the ball and drove at the Kennoway defence, winning a free kick for his efforts. Lewis McLear tried his luck but sent it whistling over the bar with some ferocity.
The move of the match came when Gavin Lachlan pinged a fantastic switch to Jamie Walker, He cushioned a volley first time back inside to Yacine Boualem, he connected sweetly first time but rattled the crossbar and saw his effort go behind for a goal kick.
Having not had anything of note to do all afternoon and standing in the icy October rain, you’d have forgiven Chris Henry for being a bit stiff in the Braves goal. However, with five minutes to play he produced an outstanding fingertip save to stop the ball flying in the top corner, securing his clean sheet for the day.
Today’s match could have been a tricky cup tie for Caledonian Braves if they hadn’t started well and got a hold of the game early doors. Ricky Waddell will be very pleased to get four goals and a clean sheet, all while progressing to the next round of the South Challenge Cup. There were a few notable mentions like Rhys Armstrong and Jack McDowall but Jamie Walker picks up the player of the match award, after his two goals.
Next up for Caledonian Braves is a tough away trip to play Rangers B team on Saturday 23rd at 3pm. This will be the first time the two sides have met and should be a tight contest with both teams looking to play exciting, attacking football.
1. Chris Henry
2. Jack Brown
3. Mathew Henderson
4. Jack McDowall
5. Jack Duncan
6. Rhys Armstrong
7. Zac Butterworth
8. Luke Main
9. Lewis McLear
10. Cameron Breadner
11. Jamie Walker (C)
12. Lewis Duffy
14. Gavin Lachlan
15. Amaury Testa
16. Yacine Boualem
17. Scott Forrester