BRAVES GO TOE TO TOE WITH EK TO GET A POINT
A fantastic team performance from Caledonian Braves against East Kilbride sees them head back down the road with a valuable point, after a 1-1 draw.
It was a lovely summers evening in front of a packed stand at K-Park as both teams looked to pick up a valuable 3 points. Coming off the back of an emphatic 4-1 victory last time out Caledonian Braves were up against one of the strongest teams in the league who are aiming for promotion. East Kilbride have some major experience in their squad with the likes of Steven Saunders, Gregg Wylde and Chris Erskine all having played over 200 Scottish topflight games between them.
There were enforced changes to the Braves lineup as Lewis McLear and captain Ross Lindsey both failed late fitness tests, this saw Jamie Watson start up front and Gavin Lachlan come in for his first start of the season. With goalkeeper Chris Henry still isolating due to COVID-19 protocols, young Harry Brown was confirmed on loan from Kilmarnock just hours before kick off and started on the bench. All these problems left manager Ricky Waddell with only 2 outfield substitutes as the game began.
The game began with a frantic start. Braves found themselves strongly appealing for a penalty within the first few minutes after Jamie Watson was upended in the box. EK immediately went up the other end of the park and floated a ball into the box, their forward powered a header toward goal and was almost away celebrating had it not been for the incredible point-blank reaction save from Lewis Duffy in goals. This would be a regular theme throughout for Duffy, who was also celebrating his 19th birthday.
The game was plagued by injuries throughout (even before it kicked off) as East Kilbride lost their main striker Joao Victoria and key man Chris Erskine almost back-to-back in the first half.
Braves then went after the home side and got in their faces pressing them high and forcing errors early on. From here it was very start stop, both teams enjoyed spells of pressure and possession in the first half yet neither managed to create more than half chances throughout. One of the more notable passages of play was eventually worked to the left-hand side, Jamie Walker overlapping picked up the ball and managed to fire a wicked shot just over the bar, which saw the first half come to an end, goalless at the interval.
No changes at the break as both teams looked to save their depleted options for later in the game.
Immediately after the restart the injury problems continued for Braves, Jamie Watson landed awkwardly on his ankle and stayed down with some visible discomfort. After being helped off the pitch he was replaced by Cole Starrs.
Last time out off the bench it took Starrs all of 5 minutes to score, this time he was almost quicker. He was immediately played through on goal and shifted the ball well onto his left foot, striking the ball low and across the face of goal it forced the EK goalkeeper to produce a great one-handed save.
Almost like a wakeup call EK grew into the game from that point on, after sustained pressure their striker Craig Malcom forced Duffy into another outstanding save, the ball bounced back out and looked certain to be prodded home into the empty net before Jamie Walker threw himself in front of the rebound and deflected it wide for a corner.
Minutes later East Kilbride took the lead. After pressuring the Braves defense their striker Craig Malcom managed to nick the ball from Scott Forrester and punish the center half, putting the home side in front with a smart finish. 1-0.
However, just like against Stirling University Braves did not falter after going behind. If anything, they doubled down their efforts and only 5 minutes later found themselves level. A fantastic in swinging free kick from Rhys Armstrong found the head of stand in captain Scott Forrester. He threw himself at the cross and produced a spectacular diving header to make it 1-1.
From here the game sparked into life, firstly East Kilbride rattled the crossbar from all of 35 yards out with a looping strike. Then Cole Starrs stole the ball on the halfway line and set off toward goal, getting his head up well he played in Zac Butterworth. He stood his man up and twisted inside and then out skipping past him with ease, fired a fantastic shot goalward from a tight angle which produced another great save from the EK goalkeeper. With minutes to go Starrs picked the ball up again and turned well in the box, somehow managing to find space he got his shot away well, but it was deflected for a corner that came to nothing.
A frantic game came to an end when the referee blew for full time. Both teams created chances throughout and at times got the ball down and popped it about well. Going into the game Braves would have possibly been happy with a point, but after how well they played they might feel disappointed to have not won the match. Another game with visible progress from Caledonian Braves against a very strong opposition. Looking more and more of a solid unit as the games progress there is a real platform to build from for Ricky Waddell and his team.
Next up for Braves is another away trip, this time against Broomhill. This Saturday at 3pm.
1. Lewis Duffy
2. Jack Brown
3. Jamie Walker
4. Gavin Lachlan
5. Scott Forrester (C)
6. Jack McDowell
7. Marc Kelly
8. Rhys Armstrong
10. Luke Main
11. Zac Butterworth
15. Jamie Watson (46’ Cole Starrs)
12. Jack Duncan
14. Cole Starrs
75. Harry Brown
1. Conor Brennan
2. Blair Malcom
3. Gregg Wylde
4. Luke Kenny
5. Steven Old
6. Anthony Brady
7. Neil McLaughlin
8. Christopher Millar (C)
9. Joao Victoria
10. Chris Erskine
11. Cameron Elliot
12. Craig Malcom
14. Shaun Rodgers
15. Ciaran McAninch
16. Blair Richardson
17. Steven Saunders
18. Daniel McManus
25. Jacob Kean (GK)