First Team

McNeil wonderstrike can't topple City

26th December 2020

An early Ross McNeil wonderstrike was not enough to secure passage to the Second Round of the Scottish Cup for the Braves, as they lost 3-1 to Edinburgh City at Ainslie Park. 

An Alan Reid own goal, as well as strikes from Robbie McIntyre and Josh Campbell, conspired to dump the Braves out of Scotland's oldest cup competition - in only their fifth time of entering.

Conditions also played a part in the capital, with a ferocious north-blowing gale hampering both sides - although that didn't stop them playing out a terrific game of football.

Vice-captain McNeil got things off to the perfect start. Reading the bounce of the ball better than his opposite man, he took a touch 25 yards from goal and lashed it into the top corner venomously. It was an incredible strike, which took the striker to nine goals in nine games for the season.

That lead would last just 13 minutes, though. Josh Campbell, on loan from Hibernian, was a constant threat and this time he powered down the left and into the box before cutting back. It was a hard, drilled ball and it cannoned of Alan Reid - making his return to the side - before flying past Yohann Chardon.

There were a few half-chances before the break. Craig Thomson fired a few free-kicks over for the hosts, with Scott Forrester and Blair Docherty both missing opportunities for the Braves.

Into the second-half, and now with the wind behind them, City scored almost immediately. A cross from the right wasn't dealt with and left-back Robbie McIntyre popped up to slide it past the keeper.

For the next ten minutes, the Braves rode their luck. McIntyre went close twice before Raffa De Vita put two efforts just wide. Those efforts were split by an Ouzy See header, which was acrobatically saved by Chardon - not his last fine block of the afternoon.

It didn't seem that the Frenchman would keep them in it, for a time. Just before the hour mark, the keeper took down See in the box but - as he did against Jeanfield Swifts - he produced a heroic penalty save to keep the Braves in it.

After getting themselves off the ropes, the third goal was a sucker punch. Having soaked up the pressure, the visitors had a free-kick deep in City territory. Sinclair's cross was blocked and City broke forward, See putting Campbell on a plate. The young Hibee was a picture of composure as he rolled in the third.

Both sides would have further chances to score, with Chardon denying Liam Henderson the chance to continue his goal-scoring exploits from centre-half, but ultimately this one would finish 3-1.

It's easy to explain why the Braves had such a tough start to this season. They were without their talisman until late November, when Ross McNeil re-appeared.

Results have turned around, albeit not quite as dramatically as wanted, but the Braves look a constant threat with the vice-captain on the park.

His goal today wasn't a usual Rosco effort (close-range or around the keeper). Instead, he whacked the leather off the ball from distance - and to some effect.

The other talking point came at the other end - Yohann Chardon. Incredibly unlucky to concede three, the Frenchman made sure this one stayed interesting with a string of superb blocks and flings. It gives the manager a headache now that Kieran Hughes has returned from self-isolation.

Braves: Chardon; Guthrie (Smith), Dowie, Reid, Forrester, Lachlan; McLaughlin (Winters), Sinclair, Esplin, Docherty (Pearson); McNeil
Subs: Hughes; McDowall, Slattery, Watson

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