Braves come back to score four and get 3 points against Stirling Uni
Caledonian Braves picked up their first win of the season as they came back to beat Stirling university 4-1.
A glorious afternoon at Alliance Park saw Caledonian Braves head into this game needing a win. After losing back-to-back games without scoring, Braves were hoping to get their season finally up and running. Stirling came into this tie undefeated having beaten Gretna 2008 2-0 on the opening day and drawing 1-1 with Broomhill last time out.
There were a few changes for Braves as goalkeeper Chris Henry missed out due to self-isolating protocols, this saw Lewis Duffy make his first start of the season. Cole Starrs and Jamie Watson both dropped out, a move which saw Lewis McLear start up front, with Jamie Walker playing more advanced as a Right winger. Zac Butterworth also came in on the left wing after impressing off the bench last time out. Jack Hart came in at left back, also starting his first game of the season. Luke Main remained out as he was serving the last of his 2-match ban. Gavin Lachlan also returned to the squad for the first time this season after recovering from an injury, allowing him to start on the bench.
Caledonian Braves started well and within the first ten minutes had a great chance. A great tackle from Marc Kelly left him breaking down the right wing, he fired a ball into the box that broke to Zac Butterworth and his shot was saved well. The rebound fell to Lewis McLear who tried a scissor kick that just narrowly went wide.
However, after such sustained pressure, Braves went behind against the run of play. A bouncing ball into the box wasn’t dealt with by the defence, eventually being prodded home by a Stirling midfielder to make it 1-0 to the away side.
Despite being a goal down Braves didn’t panic. They regrouped and continued to pile on the pressure with sustained possession and high pressing. Shortly after the water break, due to the twenty-five-degree heat, Lewis McLear pulled up with a hamstring injury. Cole Starrs replaced him and would have an immediate impact.
Barely on the field for five minutes the striker got the home side level. The move started with fantastic play from Rhys Armstrong down the right-hand side, driving past the defence and cutting the ball across to Starr’s who made no mistake with the finish. 1-1.
It was a fast-paced game throughout the first half, and this continued into the second. Braves came out firing after the break and were duly rewarded in the fifty third minute. Ross Lindsey nonchalantly flicked a ball with his back heel into the path of Marc Kelly, looking to his left he played through Zac Butterworth with a perfectly weighted pass. Zac fired home a left foot volley first time into the opposite corner to send Braves in front. 2-1.
You could tell the home side were in the mood as they didn’t stop there. Ten minutes later it was 3-1. Rhys Armstrong sliced down on a volley superbly to somehow play Jamie Walker in on goal, he was far to quick for the onrushing goalkeeper as he knocked the ball round him and slotted home into the empty net.
The last half hour of the game was controlled by Caledonian Braves, and nothing troubled the defence as they dealt with anything that did manage to come their way. With fifteen minutes to go Gavin Lachlan made his return from injury to make his first appearance of the season, bolstering up the midfield for the closing minutes.
Just as the game was in the dying seconds, Marc Kelly found himself brought down by the Stirling goalkeeper after he managed to skip round him. Absolutely no hesitation from the referee and a penalty was given. Kelly dusted himself off and coolly dispatched the spot kick to make it 4-1 to the Braves and well and truly get their season up and running.
Overall a fantastic performance from Caledonian Braves against a very decent outfit. Rhys Armstrong was particularly outstanding, controlling the midfield and grabbing two assists in the process. However, to a man there was no player who didn’t turn up and Braves can take a lot of confidence into their tough trip against East Kilbride on Tuesday night, 7.45pm K-Park.
Lindsay (C) (75 Lachlan)
McLear (32 Starrs)
Butterworth (88 Watson)