First Team

McNeil delighted with winner and says cup win was well deserved

12th December 2020

Ross McNeil was the stand-in skipper for Caledonian Braves in the Scottish Cup Second Round (Prelim) tie against Clachnacuddin, and produced a performance worthy of the armband.

The striker wore the armband in place of Alan Reid who was sidelined with an illness., and started up front on his own before being joined by Jack Smith in the second half, a move that proved clinical.

A threat in the opponent's box in general, he also provided the winning goal as he bundled Smith's deflected shot over the line with 18 minutes to go as the Braves hung on to the win with only ten men on the park after Jamie Walker's 20th minute red card.

The striker said the better team won on the day and praised his teammates spirit.

McNeil said: "It was well deserved to be honest. We actually played well considering the surface too, especially to start with. Obviously we go down to ten men but the boys have done excellent.

"We've dug in, everybody to a man on a difficult surface and we've managed to sneak a goal at the end."

The goal won't live long in the memory for its quality, but after Smith's initial effort was held up on the line by a combination of keeper and defender, McNeil saw an opportunity to pounce but the ball still seemed to take an age to go in. It was the number nine's third goal of the season.

"I'm pretty sure Jack will still try and claim it was over the line. I just seen Jack hit the shot and I thought it was going on but then their player gets back on the line and when I seen that I thought I'm just going to throw my body at it, and it went in."

Left back Walker's red card made things more difficult for the Braves to defend their early lead, thanks to Scott Forrester's header. But alluding to the improving morale among the squad that flies in the face of poor recent results, McNeil believed he couldn't have asked for more from the players around him.

He said: "You would think it would be difficult to lift the boys in that situation, especially with the way results have been for us but to be fair today when you look around you saw everybody was up for it and everybody had that wee bit of hunger. 

"We knew it was only a matter of time until half time so it was a case of keeping it tight and we'd get in and regroup."

With the draw for the First Round Proper due to take place on Sunday December 13 at 10am, the striker is optimistic about what the result means for the club and the players themselves.

"Everyone is buzzing, " he said. "Some of the boys in there have never played in the proper Scottish Cup.

"You want to go as far as you can, for the club it's good to get your name out there. Who knows what can happen in the next round and then the big names from the Championship come out in the next round and you can test yourself against as best opposition as you can."

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