Back in action again in this three game week, Caledonian Braves hosted Gretna 2008 as the first team to visit Alliance Park on official Lowland League business.
The game hit a bump early on for the home side, some miscommunication and a slack backwards pass from Jack McDowall allowed the Gretna forward to sneak in behind Dominic Slattery. As the forward thundered towards goal Slattery pulled him down leaving the Referee no other option than to show an early red card.
The Braves struggled to get to grips playing a man down as the half progressed. Gretna enjoyed some spells down the right hand side with their right back making great runs and looking like their key man.
Just after the half-hour mark, the away side opened the scoring. A long through ball from the Gretna left back was miss-hit by Braves Skipper Alan Reid allowing the ball to fall into the path of Ramsey who slotted passed Alex Marshall scoring the first ever goal at Alliance Park.
Braves started to open their play more as we approached the mid-way point. McDowall picked up on a loose pass and quickly sent the ball forward to Ross McNeil. Some good interchanging passes between Neil McLaughlin, David Sinclair and Marc Kelly brought the ball over the half-way line where Sinclair hit Blair Docherty in space on the right hand side. Docherty ran at the defence, shifted the ball on to his left foot and buried it into the top corner of the net giving the Gretna keeper no chance.
It looked like we were heading into break with the score tied. The Gretna right back again causing problems. His cross started a frenzy in the box with the away side being the quicker to react, after a great save from Marshall, Addison was able to slide the ball home.
HT Braves 1-2 Gretna 2008
The Braves started the second half in similar style to Saturday’s game. Early pressure allowed the home side to create chances but couldn’t find that equaliser
As the hour mark approached Docherty claimed his second of the game. Braves were knocking at the door and eventually managed to sneak through. Great build up play found the ball at Kyle Johnson’s feet at the edge of the box. His cross me McNeil’s head which looped over the keeper but hit the cross bar. McLaughlin went to slam the ball home from close range but for an exceptional save from the keeper rising to his feet to make the block from point blank range. The block led the ball to spin towards Docherty who thundered the ball into the roof of the net. 2-2 and the game was back on.
Continued pressure from the home side allowed them time on the ball as Gretna players tired. Twenty minutes to go and Neil Mclaughlin was off on the counter striding towards the half-way line. He played a lovely waited through ball into the path of McNeil who kept himself onside. McNeil had no worries as he slotted past the Gretna keeper to secure all three points for the Braves.
A hard fought win for the Braves for their first ever home game at Alliance Park. Up next league favourites Kelty Hearts again at Alliance Park, Saturday 3rd August 2019 3PM KO.