Berwick Rangers v Caledonian Braves
Ten men Caledonian Braves fell to a 1-0 defeat after a well fought opening game against Berwick Rangers.
A trip down south saw Caledonian Braves face Berwick Rangers on a glorious summer’s afternoon, kicking of the 21/22 Lowland League campaign in front of almost 400 fans. After a long wait, the Braves were finally back playing their first competitive game since the 1st of January 2021.
Brave’s manager Ricky Waddell named a host of new signings in the starting lineup. Handing competitive debuts to the likes of Lewis Mclear, Cole Starrs and Ross Lindsay, who will also be the captain of Caledonian Braves for the new season.
The first 15 minutes started lively for Caledonian Braves with high pressing football forcing the home side on the back foot early on. Lewis Mclear playing in Cole Starrs who was marginally offside and through on goal. Minutes later, a mix-up at the back saw a long ball go over the Braves centre half and beyond the outrushing keeper, but the Berwick striker couldn’t convert his efforts to make it 1-0 to the home side. However, shortly after, two in swinging corners in quick succession found an opening at the back post for Mackenzie to capitalise, nodding home a free header to make it 1-0 to the Borderers.
The home side dominated the ball after taking the lead, but chances were few for both teams as the game was quite scrappy. Around the 30th minute, Brave’s striker Jamie Watson done brilliant to create some room and drive down the left flank, cutting inside and floating a ball into the back post where Lewis McLear was waiting to pounce. However, the Berwick defender managed to head the ball behind for a corner.
Both teams remained unchanged as the second half kicked off to a lively opening. A bouncing ball in the middle of the park saw Luke Main go in for a 50/50 challenge, which resulted with the referee producing a straight red and ending the midfielders debut early.
Despite Braves regrouping well, Berwick took control of the second half. The home side took advantage of the 10 men, they worked the ball well from side to side whilst continuing to pile the pressure on.
The next chance came when Berwick’s number 10 done brilliant to dance through the Braves defence, finding enough space to scuff an effort along the ground which saw the ball come back off the post.
Braves settled toward the end of the game and at times it didn’t look like they had a man down. Lone striker Jamie Watson done brilliant to drive down the right-hand side this time and fire a cutback across the face of goal, with no one there to meet it.
With 20 minutes left to play Lewis Mclear made way for Zak Butterworth to make his debut. The winger caused problems for the home side and drew a free kick with 15 minutes to go. The ball was floated to the back post where Marc Kelly headed it back across the box, but no one was able to get on the end of it.
With the game coming to a close, both sides seemed drained after a hard-fought contest in scorching heat. Caledonian Braves will take positives from their resolute display after playing nearly the entire second half with ten men, not conceding and still creating some half chances.
Caledonian Braves play their first home game of the season at Alliance Park against Dalbeattie Star on Tuesday night, 7.45pm kick off.
1.Henry 2. Brown 3. Walker 4. Main 5. Forrester 6. McDowall 7. Kelly 8. Lindsay (C) 9. Watson 10. Mclear (Butterworth 68’) 11. Starrs (Armstrong 63’)
12. Duncan 13. Butterworth 14. Armstrong 15. Hart 16. Duffy
1. McNeil 2. Finnie 3. Pyper (C) 4. Cook 5. Ward 6. Sinclaire 7. Mackenzie 8. Harris 9. Taylor 10. Allan 11. Smith
12. Swinton 13. Somerville 14. Nelson 15. Heeps 16. Purves 17. Trialist