Kelty Hearts 1-0 Edinburgh City
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty Hearts unbeaten start to SPFL life continued thanks to a second half strike from Jamie Barjonas at New Central Park. The first even meeting between two sides to be promoted from the Lowland League turned out to be a tight affair, but it was Kevin Thomson’s side that took the points to stay top of League 2.
Thomson has struggled to get a settled defensive line up this season, and today was no different as the gaffer was forced to shuffle the pack again thanks to a warmup injury for Jordan Forster. Darren Jamieson started in goal, with a back four of Ross Philp and Robbie McNab at full back and Scott Hooper & Thomas O’Ware in the centre. Skipper Michael Tidser was the anchorman in midfield alongside Barjonas and Connor Barron, with Joe Cardle, Kallum Higginbotham and Nathan Austin up top.
This one was a little bit of cat & mouse to begin with, both sides starting slowly and sizing one another up. City probably started a bit brighter than their hosts, pressing high up the pack and getting the Kelty defence on their toes early on. It took fully twenty minutes for either side to properly test the keeper, Austin with a fierce drive that stung the palms of Brian Schwake in the City goal.
The longer the half went on, the more Kelty began to settle, Joe Cardle starting to pop up all over the park and looking lively on the ball. Kelty’s best chance of the half fell to Cardle, Austin finding him with a cross played deep to the back post, but the angle was a bit too tight, and he could only head into the side netting.
City were still creating chances of their own though and there was a carbon copy chance for John Robertson at the back post, but once again the angle was against him, and he couldn’t test DJ in the Kelty goal. It was the two defences that were on top in the half though and chances were at a premium at both ends. O’Ware in particular keeping things in order at the back for Kelty, while Lewis Toshney’s perfectly timed tackle in the City box denied Barjonas just as he was about to pull the trigger.
There was a nice touch during the half-time break as the Edinburgh City board welcomed Kelty to the SPFL with a presentation of an engraved silver salver.
Kelty started the second half in a more business-like fashion and the pressure on the visitors was starting to build. O’Ware tested the City defence with a penetrating run from deep that they just managed to scramble clear. From the resulting corner, it was O’Ware who went close again with a free header that thumped off the crossbar with Schwake well beaten.
If that was a warning shot, then City failed to take notice and they were behind just two minutes later. Barjonas picked his way through the visitor’s defence and although they managed to block his first effort, he won it back and despite being surrounded by three defenders, stuck it away at the second time of asking.
Barjo was starting to run the show in the middle of the park and could have doubled the lead just a couple of minutes later but although he was being pushed wide and had both Higginbotham & Austin available, he went alone when squaring it would have been the better option. His teammates weren’t slow in point out the error of his ways.
Kelty were well on top at this stage, but a single goal lead is never completely comfortable, and City were far from out of it. They were still creating chances but couldn’t really manage any real sustained period of pressure. Robertson again had the best chance for the visitors, his lobbed shot having Jamieson at full stretch but just dropping over the bar onto the roof of the net. For the most part, the Kelty defence were keeping City quiet though, O’Ware controlling things and bringing composure to the back four.
Barjonas had one more chance to make the points safe with another run from midfield, cutting in from the left and firing a shot across the face of goal that just slipped past the far post. In the end, Kelty managed to hold on for a well-deserved win that keeps them top of the early season table on ten points, with Annan second just a point behind and Forfar two back in third. Disappointment for Edinburgh City, who remain in eighth and have yet to pick up a point on the road.
Man of the Match: Jamie Barjonas was pushed all the way by both Joe Cardle and Thomas O’Ware, but in the end gets the nod thanks to an impressive second half. His running from midfield caused problems all afternoon and with his immaculate close control, he always seemed able to find himself a yard of space.
See the full match gallery HERE