On Tuesday evening, we ended our Lowland League campaign with a 2-0 loss against Rangers B. Our clinical hosts scored either side of the half-time whistle and despite some decent spells of play, the Braves were unable to find a goal at the other end.
Coming into the game, Ricky Waddell made four changes with Chris Henry, Jamie Walker, Liam Craig and Matty Collins returning to the starting line-up, whilst academy players Shay McManus and Joel Arthur made the bench. At sixteen years of age, Joel impressed after entering the game for the final ten minutes, in his debut for the first team.
“For the first 5/10 minutes of the game we were good and I felt we finished the game as the stronger side,” Ricky told BravesTV after the game. “I don’t think we did enough to win the game… but there was a lot be pleased with tonight in terms of the last thirty minutes, but the bit in-between we struggled on the turnover to keep the ball.”
With the sun glaring over Dumbarton Stadium in the first half, neither side created chances of note in the opening twenty-five minutes, despite some promising play from the Braves. Jamie Watson and Matty Collins both had attempts, which were comfortably saved by Budinauckas in the Rangers B goal, whilst the returning Chris Henry was also tested during this period.
Unfortunately, John Guthrie had to withdraw from the on the twenty-five-minute mark due to injury. Enzo Wright replaced the midfielder, and the 17-year-old once again impressed with a combative performance in the engine room.
As the game roared on, our hosts grew into the game and took the lead in the 37th minute. Rangers B skipper Robbie Fraser created the goal with some superb play on the left flank, which resulted in a pinpoint low cross to the back post. There, Robbie Ure was on hand to slide into the open net to give his side a lead.
Rangers B continued to attack the Braves goal, but were unable to add a second before the half-time whistle.
Ricky Waddell’s half time team went straight out the window however, after the ‘Gers added to their lead early in the second half. After winning a free-kick on the edge of the box, Charlie Lindsay fired a low, accurate strike which clipped the inside of the post before hitting the back of the net in the 50th minute.
Despite this setback, the Braves rallied impressively and grew into the final half hour of the game, after the introduction of Marc Kelly, who was unfortunate to see a header cannon off the woodwork after meeting a Butterworth cross. Scott Forrester also had the ball in the back of the net, but his celebrations were halted after the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Having committed bodies forward in their search of a goal, the Braves were caught out in defence and Rangers B were awarded a penalty after 67 minutes, when Scott Forrester was adjudged to have fouled his man. Aaron Lyall struck his penalty with pace and accuracy towards the bottom corner, however Chris Henry went the right way and imperiously saved the effort.
The Braves galanty attempted a remarkable comeback, however their efforts were hampered after Luke Main received a second yellow card for a tackle at the halfway line, much to the bemusement of the Braves players. With ten men on the park, the Braves saw out the game and Chris Henry made another superb save to keep the deficit at two.
This proved to be the final piece of action in our Lowland League campaign, with the lads cementing a 10th place finish on the weekend. “I believe we have good players in the team and it’s about how quickly they progress,” stated Ricky when reflecting upon the campaign. “There’s been an inconsistency with results, but also an inconsistency with team selection, squad fitness and squad size.”
“I need to sit down and look at it properly, ask ‘why did we score a lot of goals’ and ‘why did we concede a lot of goals.’”
Next up, the Braves will once again be on the road to face Gala Fairydean Rovers in the Lowland League Cup. Keep an eye on our socials and club app for updates on Saturday afternoon!