Despite a valiant display at Alliance Park this weekend, Caledonian Braves fell to a 0-1 loss at home to Celtic B, with a contentious penalty separating the two sides.
On a clear and sunny afternoon in ML1, Ricky Waddell named one change to his side from last week’s cup victory over Auchinleck, with Jack Brown re-entering the starting line-up in place of Ross McNeil. This saw John Guthrie return to the centre of the park, to form a three-man midfield, with Jamie Watson being handed the task of leading the line.
Despite a competitive opening to the game, it was our visitors who had the first opportunity to open the scoring after Adam Brooks was adjudged to be fouled in the box, after just seven minutes. MacKenzie Carse stood up to open the scoring, however Braves ‘keeper Bernie White went the right way to make a sensational save to keep the scores level.
Both sides were keen to play technical football and Celtic B continued to test the shot-stopper in the first half hour, but couldn’t find a way around the American. Kyle Ure was also unlucky to strike the post with a shot from range for Celtic B. Meanwhile, Jamie Watson and Zac Butterworth had opportunities to open the scoring at the other end, however both efforts were easy for Celtic ‘keeper Josh Clarke to stop.
Five minutes before half-time, Celtic B were awarded a conspicuous penalty after Jack Brown was adjudged to handle in the box. Initially, Bruno Davidson advanced with the ball down the left and smashed the ball into the Braves defender from close range. Despite the protests of the home side, Adam Brook – who took over penalty taking duties for Celtic B - made no mistakes, by smashing his effort down the middle.
The penalty was ultimately the only goal at the end of a competitive first-half, where the Braves would’ve felt aggrieved to be going in down by one.
As the second half pressed on, the game continued to be a competitive affair between the two sides, with the Braves pressing the Celtic youngsters effectively, who were keen to play out from the back.
Bernie White stood out in the first half for his superb work in the Braves goal and made another decent save on the hour mark to keep the deficit at one. However, the second half belonged to Celtic B goalkeeper Clarke who made a string of saves en-route to a clean sheet.
The Northern Irishman made a trio of excellent stops in the final fifteen, with Ricky Waddell’s side creating a number of superb moves in their attempts to find an equaliser.
Late-on, the hosts threw everything they had at the Hoop’s defence and can ultimately count themselves unlucky to not have found an equaliser, after dominating territory for the last twenty minutes. At the end of the affair, the game was settled by a contentious first half penalty and the Braves can be proud of their performance throughout.
However credit to our young visitors, who rallied late on to claim all three points as they look to keep pace with the Spartans at the top of the Lowland League table.
Focus for the Caledonian Braves will now switch to next weekend’s game away to Bo’ness United at Newton Park, for what is sure to be yet another competitive Lowland League fixture.