Caledonian Braves vs Vale Of Leithen
Match Centre

Caledonian Braves vs Vale Of Leithen

Tuesday 15th December 2020, KO 19:45 | Lowland League | Alliance Park

A breathtaking performance from the Caledonian Braves saw them run up a momentous 9-0 scoreline against Vale of Leithen at Alliance Park.

In what was comfortably the Braves best performance of the season, Ross McNeil grabbed a hat-trick as he once again skippered the team. It was he who put the home side ahead with the first attack of the match, adding another before the first half was out and the third just after the hour.

Gavin Lachlan popped up with a brace and there were goals for David Sinclair, Jamie Watson, Blair Docherty and Neil McLaughlin on a simply stunning night in North Lanarkshire.

The result moves the Braves up to 12th place in the Lowland League table with 12 points, and crucially builds some momentum following on from Saturday's Scottish Cup victory.

Vale had no time to settle by the time the Braves had stamped their authority. McNeil, still buoyant from his winner on Saturday was in a killer mood and his header off of John Guthrie's cross was down and into the ground from insidethe six-yard box, bouncing between goalkeeper Ben McGinley's legs and into the net.

There weren't many clear cut chances of note until the Braves doubled the scoreline. The home side continued to penetrate down the right wing and this time it was Smith who set up a teammate for a close range finish. The forward drilled an enticing ball across the face of goal with Lachlan on the line to turn it home.

The Smith and McNeil partnership flourished when unleashed on Saturday and showed its prowess again tonight. For the third goal, on 22 minutes, Smith laid on a perfect through ball for his strike partner who took the ball on the run and swiftly swiped a shot low into the bottom corner, leaving McGinley with no chance.

The Braves didn't take their foot off the gas as attempts on target from McNeil and McLaughlin proved but the avalanche of goals would have to wait until the second half.

McNeil could've had his hat-trick within two minutes of the restart, skimming the bar with a header at the back post after McLaughlin and Sinclair worked a short corner and the latter floated a lovely ball in for the stand-in skipper.

He was content with waiting 15 minutes for it however. The striker was fleet of foot to anticipate Smith's layoff on the edge of the box and he coolly rounded the keeper and kept his composure to roll the ball home from inside the area, confidently enough to evade the recovering boots of two Vale defenders.

Lachlan added his second on 66 minutes with a terrific diving header following good work down the right by substitute Corey Pearson before Sinclair rounded off a wonderful team move in the 76th minute. Superb link-up from the Braves through the midfield freed up McNeil who had dropped deep, and he laid the ball on a plate for Sinclair to slot home.

If Pearson made the first meaningful impact from the sub's bench, the seventh goal was exclusive to the fresh introductions. Dominic Slattery charged forward from defence and found himself latching onto a dinked ball in behind the opposing back line and he was able to turn a cross low towards the near post for a lovely Jamie Watson finish.

The final two strikes, from Docherty and McLaughlin, had a lot to live up to given what went before them. Nonetheless, both finishes were strong and both players deserving of the mark against their name, even if they weren't as on fire as some of the other key players. Docherty started and finished the move for his goal, while McLaughlin added another to his growing collection of eye-catching strikes.

To name them would be McNeil, Smith, Sinclair and Lachlan but throughout the team standards were high. At 3-0, Ricky Waddell ensured his team came out for the second half seeking blood. Thank goodness those white kits was well.