Conditions Dictate as Braves Fall to Narrow Defeat
On a wet and blustery afternoon at Alliance Park, Caledonian Braves were defeated 2-3 by Tranent Juniors, in a game which was dictated by tough weather conditions and officiating. Ricky Waddell named one change to his starting line-up, with Zac Butterworth dropping out of the squad for the returning Marc Kelly, as both teams matched up in 4-2-3-1 shapes respectively.
Neither side settled quickly, with the opening passages being marred by a succession of fouls. However, the first chance of the game fell to the visitors, when the impressive Ben Miller struck the post from 25-yards-out, which left the Chris Henry with no chance in the Braves goal.
With the conditions proving to be challenging for both sides, Caledonian’s most dangerous early threat came from direct balls in-behind to on-running wingers, with Tranent deploying a high line. The first real chance for the hosts was a gilt-edged opportunity after 15 minutes, when midfielder Luke Main skewed a shot over the bar from point blank range, after some good work from Kelly on the right.
As the rain continued to fall, the tempo finally picked up 25 minutes in, when Caledonian Braves were awarded a penalty after a Luke Main shot was deemed to have been blocked by the hand of a Tranent defender. Marc Kelly stood up and coolly dispatched his spotkick down the middle, to give the Braves a lead.
However, this lead didn’t last long, as two minute later Ben Miller once again opened up from distance, but this time found the bottom corner with a delightfully hit strike. 10 minutes later, Miller slipped in Martin Maughan, but his shot was well saved by Henry, who handled the 1 v 1 situation impressively to keep the scoreline level.
Caledonian once again had a good call for a penalty, after a Scott Forrester header appeared to strike a hand, however the appeals of the hosts were waved away by the officials - and other than a tame Cammy Breadner effort - was the last action before the half-time whistle.
The second half opened with a few half chances for both sides, however 55 minutes in, experienced defender Craig Barr was shown a second yellow card, for an uncharacteristically clumsy challenge. The sending off gave the Braves’ players a much-needed boost who applied pressure for the next ten minutes. However, Tranent were controversially awarded a corner kick, after a pinball within the box. The visitors then took full opportunity, when Ben Miller latched onto a near post flick on to make the score 1-2. Matters went from bad to worse for the Braves, when Luke Main was shown a straight red for dissent in the aftermath, presumably after expressing his dismay at the award of the corner.
As the Braves attempted to rally, Tranent provided the sucker punch to make the score 1-3 in the 76th minute. The move began with an impressive run by the pacey Adam McGowan on the left, whose overhit cross was picked up at the far post and floated back into the box, where Nicky Reid was in the right place to smash home, after Chris Henry failed to deal with a looping cross.
This pivotal goal forced Ricky Waddell’s hand and the Braves picked up the pace in their search for a way back into the game. After a rather bitty spell, the Braves pushed a number of bodies into the box and after a tangle of legs, were awarded their second penalty of the game. Marc Kelly smashed his effort into the bottom left corner to give his side with a lifeline.
Defender Mark Forrester was pushed into attack for the final moments - to make it a three-man strike force - as Caledonian pushed for an equaliser. However, Tranent were able to see out the last ten minutes with ease, with a distinct lack of control or sustained pressure from Caledonian, who were keen to get the ball forward at the very first opportunity.
The defeat leaves Caledonian in 10th position, whilst Tranent joined Rangers B on 51 points at the summit of the table. On a day where conditions took over, the hosts would’ve been disappointed to not display their array of talents, but still pushed a strong Tranent Juniors side until the very end.