Austin Strike Sinks Stranraer
Kelty Hearts 1-0 Stranraer
SPFL League 2
New Central Park
Kelty stretched their lead at the top of League thanks to an early Nathan Austin goal at New Central Park. In a tight match, Joe Cardle, Thomas O’Ware and Alfredo Agyeman all went close but couldn’t convert. In the end, the single goal victory was enough to give Kelty all three points.
Kelty welcomed skipper Michael Tidser back to the starting XI and lined up with Darren Jamieson in goal. And a back four of Ross Philp, Dougie Hill, Jordan Forster and O’Ware. Tidser slotted into the center of midfield, alongside Andy Black and Jamie Barron’s, with Kallum Higginbotham right, Cardle left and Austin through the middle. Stranrae lined up with Luke Scullion on goal, a back four of Scott Robertson, Craig Ross, Sean Burns and Ayrton Sonkur. Anton Brady, Ross Smith and Grant Gallgher in the middle of the defence, with Paul Woods wide right, Matty Yates on the right and Broque Watson in the middle
Kelty got off to a flying start, Austin looking like he was in the mood right from the whistle and he got the only goal of the game just 8 minutes in. Philp & Higgy with some good link up play in the buildup and Fash applied the finish with a clever little head flick to beat Scullion in the Stranraer goal.
Cardle was probably Kelty’s best player in the opening spell, and went close just a couple of minutes later, after some neat foot work from Philp to tee him up, but although he beat the keeper, there were a couple of defenders on hand to clear off the line. It was the first of three chances in quick succession for Cardle, the wee winger buzzing aroud the park cusing problems for the visiting defence. Kelty had their tails up, and were looking good to extend their lead, but Burns & Sonkur were putting in a shift and doing a decent job of keeping the Kelty attack at bay.
The longer the half went on, the more the visitors began to play their way into the game and the chances started to come at the other end. There weren’t any real heart stopping moments for the home fans, but there was enough to suggest that this one wasn’t over just yet. For 15-minute spells either side of half-time, they had the upper hand, enjoying plenty of possession and restricting Kelty to just a few counter attacks.
Kelty we’re forced into a change early in the first half, Hill, struggling with a knock picked up just before the break, replaced by McNab. Forster and O’Ware were keeping things in order at the back, and there was no need for any real heroics from Jamieson, but Stranraer were far from out of it. Slowly, the pendulum began to swing back the other way though, and Kelty started to come into it again, Higginbotham looking lively.
Kelty’s best chance of the half came from a Cardle corner, knocked down by Forster and picked up by, O’Ware, who sound and fired a shot that struck the post. Fash was on hand but couldn’t guide the rebound home. The best chance for Stranraer came from substitute Josh Walker’s free-kick up & over the wall, but DJ got down well to hold the shot. Gaffer Kevin Thomson made a double switch: Agyeman & Biabi for Cardle & Austin, and Alfie had a great chance to wrap things up, getting on the end of Higginbotham’s through ball and shooting from a tight angle, but Scullion made a good save with his feet.
It was a tough watch for the Kelty fans at times. they're used to watching their side win comfortably and they'll need to learn a bit of patience against a higher calibre of opposition. In the end, Kelty held on to take the win and although it wasn’t pretty at times, three points valuable points to keep them in top spot with 20 points from the first 8 games. With Annan slipping up at home, the lead extends to 4 points, now over Stirling Albion in second, Athletic, who visit NCP next week, a point further back in third. Stranraer remain in 7th on 8 points, one behind Elgin and one ahead of Albion Rovers.
Man of the Match: On a tight afternoon, it was probably a tossup between the two center backs, Thomas O’Ware just getting the nod. Even when Stranraer were piling on the pressure late on, he always looked composed and in control. He has a happy habit of popping up in the other penalty box too and had a couple of decent chances to get on the scoresheet.
See the ful match gallery HERE