First Team

Report: Kelly magic blasts Braves past Berwick

12th March 2023

Marc Kelly took his tally to an incredible 27 for the season after another hat trick, as Braves secured a fully deserved win over Berwick Rangers.

The importance of this game was highlighted by the fact Berwick started the game 8 points ahead of ourselves in the table, having played a game more. A win was pivotal to cut the gap and the players duly delivered.

Just like the previous game against Threave, Braves made an astonishingly rapid start. In that game, Marc Kelly scored the opener after just 30 seconds. 30 seconds was obviously too long for the game to remain scoreless for Kelly this time out. The first attack of the game, a swinging cross from Jamie Walker which found the head of Kelly, and Braves were in the lead after 15 seconds.

A perfectly placed curling cross from the creative full back, who took his assist tally to 7 for the campaign, was met by an inch perfect header from Kelly as the ball went into the top right corner of the net leaving the Berwick keeper flat footed. 

Braves didn't give the away side a chance to breathe after that opener, swarming over their in-form opponents resulting in several turnovers of possession high up the pitch.

This sustained early pressure was rewarded with a quickfire second. Ross McNeil was slipped through smartly and his low left footed shot on the angle could only be parried to Marc Kelly who had the easiest task to tap into an empty net from a few yards out. Excellent anticipation from our top scorer though it has to be said.

Eight minutes in and Berwick already had a mountain to climb. The rest of the half was more even but Bernie White, making his first start in the Lowland League, had virtually nothing to do in the Braves goal as the visitors struggled to work their way through an organised home rearguard.

Berwick came out in the second half with renewed vigour and a directness to their play. A powerful curling shot on 52 minutes was their best effort of the game at that stage but it was held brilliantly by Bernie White.

Despite some early second half pressure from the away side, the killer third goal did arrive for Braves thanks to the man of the moment Marc Kelly. A teasing in-swinging corner from Ross Lindsay and Kelly deftly nodded the ball off the side of his head into the far corner to complete his hat trick.

This three goal advantage didn't last long however as Braves switched off at a corner a few minutes later which allowed Michael Travis to volley home unmarked from the penalty spot position. 

This goal failed to have the desired impact for Berwick though as they huffed and puffed through the rest of the second half. Kelly infact could have added a remarkable fourth but dragged his whipped shot wide after a neat cut back from the energetic sub Collins. 

The Borderers did get a consolation with the last action of the game. Braves switched off from a corner once more as the ball was headed past a ruck of bodies on the line.

Some may take a glance at the close nature of the scoreline at full time and assume it was a tight affair but in reality a Braves win was never in any real doubt and an important three points was in the bag. 


Man of the Match: Marc Kelly

We are running out of superlatives for an obvious contender for player of the season, not just at Braves but for the whole league. If Kelly plays well, Braves do. Despite largely playing off the wing or in a number ten role, Kelly has the instincts of a penalty box striker and picked up excellent positions for all three of his finishes. 

Bernie White and his backline also deserve a mention, putting in a fine defensive display to largely subdue a Berwick side full of confidence following recent results.


State of Play

This was a crucial win in the context of the table and lifts us to 8th, just the five behind 6th placed Berwick with a game in hand. Next up we travel to Rangers B on Thursday night, a prospect Ricky Waddell's side will relish given their unbeaten record against Colt sides this term. 

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