B team

Match Report: Caledonian Braves 2-1 Hearts B

10 February 2024

Despite a strong finish, Hearts B were defeated 2-1 by Caledonian Braves at Alliance Park on Saturday afternoon.


Liam Fox made three changes for the trip to Strathclyde. Bailey Dall, Ryan Duncan and Lennon Thompson all came into the starting XI as Kenzi Nair, Ethan Drysdale and Aidan Denholm dropped out.


It was a sloppy start from the Wee Jambos and after the home side had an early goal disallowed for offside, they opened the scoring after just six minutes.


Positive play down the left-wing from Robbie Stewart saw him cross for Ross McNeil, who had found space in-between centre half and full back, he opened up his body expertly to powerfully side-foot the ball past Liam McFarlane.


It was a strong response from Hearts and James Wilson was the first to test Bernie White in the Braves goal.


The Wee Jambos had a few chances in the next 20 minutes, but they were unable to restore parity. White was again on his toes to deny Luke Rathie, who got a front post flick to Bobby McLuckie’s corner, before getting down low to his left to stop Ryan Duncan’s curling effort.


The clearest chance for Hearts arrived two minutes before the break. Duncan broke the lines with a smart run down the left channel and his cross to the back post somehow evaded both McLuckie and Sandilands, who were inches away from tapping home.


The home side doubled their lead seven minutes after the interval. Rathie was adjudged to have brought down McNeil inside the box and the Braves frontman dusted himself down to send McFarlane the wrong way from the penalty spot.


You couldn’t say Hearts didn’t create chances themselves. A goal-saving block from Daniel Martins denied Callum Sandilands from close-range, before James Wilson fired McLuckie’s front post cross wide on 70 minutes.


There was a B Team debut for 16-year-old Lucas Smith towards the end and as Hearts continued to create, they finally found the back of the net after 76 minutes.


Wilson linked up with substitute Mackenzie Ross down the right and his low cross was tapped home from close range by fellow sub, Murray Thomas to set up an exciting finale.


The Wee Jambos piled on the pressure in the final ten minutes and White produced a fantastic double-save to deny Ross, but that was the closest Hearts came as Braves hung on for all three points.


Caledonian Braves: White, Brown, R. Stewart, Martins, G. Stewart, Guthrie, Long, Gkeka, McNeil, Cusick, Thomson


Subs: Brown, McCarthur, Gibb, Spiers, Collins, Watson, Gemmell


Hearts: McFarlane, Dall (Smith, 66), McLuckie, Wilson, Sandilands, Gordon (Stevenson, 71), Forrester, Duncan (Thomas, 58), Rathie ©, Thompson (Smutek, 66), Pollock (Ross, 58)


Subs: McConnell, Thomas, Stevenson, Friel, Smutek, Ross, Smith