Kelty Hearts 4-1 Caledonian Braves
New Central Park
Yet another Nathan Austin hat-trick helped Kelty to the win over Caledonian Braves at New Central Park. Dylan Easton also got himself on the scoresheet again and Serge Makofo pulled on back for Braves late on, but it was Fash who stole the show to take his tally to 31 league goals for the season so far.
Kelty welcomed Danny Ashe back to the starting eleven, while there were home debuts for Craig Reid and Matty Flynn.
Barry Ferguson went with the familiar 4-5-1 formation, Ben MacKenzie in goal behind a back 4 of Ashe, Thomas Scobbie, Reid and Scott Linton.
Thomas Reilly and Stephen Husband were the sitting midfielders, with Ross Philp, Easton and Flynn supporting Austin up top.
n the away dugout, Ricky Waddell packed the middle of the park with a 3-5-2 formation.
Kelty started brightly, Flynn seeing plenty of the ball early on and linking up well with Austin. There was an early scare for the hosts though, when MacKenzie came for a long ball and strayed a little too far to off his line. Ross McNeil almost nipped in behind, but the ball was just too far in front of the striker and it rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Kelty slowly began to get into the groove, Fash already looking lively and the chances started to come. Flynn almost bagged his first goal for the club, cutting in from the left and beating the keeper but the ball smashed the underside of the bar, bounced down on the wrong side of the line and Braves managed to scramble clear.
As Kelty chances started to rack, you up could sense the goal was coming and it was Fash who made the breakthrough on 23 minutes, turning away from two defenders and firing his angled shot into the roof of the net. It was a lead that Kelty deserved, but it definitely wasn’t all one-way traffic, Braves giving as good as they got. In fact, as the half wore on, the visitors came more and more into the game and started to create plenty chances of their own in the lead up to the break.
The second half started the same way the first had finished, both sides going at each other with decent chances at both ends. Despite the lead, Kelty looked a little bit short of their best and Braves could feel there might be something in this game for them.
Ferguson made a change just short of the hour mark, Cammy Russell replacing Matty Flynn and it seemed to give the hosts a fresh injection of energy. The switch paid off within 10 minutes, Russell beating his man on the right touch line and whipping in the cross for Austin to head home and double Kelty’s lead.
Suddenly it was all Kelty as the league leaders went in for the kill, Russell at the center of the action. Easton made it three on 73 minutes with a cheeky wee bit of skill to beat two men and fire home from the edge of the box through a sea of bodies. Austin competed the hat-trick, his eighth of the season just two minutes later, sprinting clear of the defence and flicking the ball over Marshall.
And just like that, Kelty had a four-goal lead. Ferguson’s side do have knack of doing that to teams, scoring two or three goals in rapid succession to kill off an opposing. Where other sides have folded though, Braves kept going, still creating chances and testing the defence. It earned them a well-deserved goal with ten minutes left. Makofo pressured Scobbie on his own touch line and forced an uncharacteristic error from the experienced defender, which the Congolese took full advantage off, sliding the ball home from the tightest of angles.
It finished 4-1 to Kelty, but it was a scoreline that look unlikely for long spells of this game and Waddell’s side emerge from this game with plenty of credit despite the loss. The gaffer will be hoping to keep that form going ahead of the visit from Civil Service Stroller next week.
The fixture computer has been playing some odd tricks on Kelty of late and it’s thrown up another curved ball, as they now face consecutive away games at Dalbeattie and Spartans followed, by a free week ahead of the much anticipated home match against second placed Bonnyrigg Rose at the end of February.
Fans Man of the Match:
Ross Philip had another solid game in midfield and Cammy Russell certainly turned the tide when he came off the bench, but the game belonged to one man: Nathan Austin continued his incredible scoring record, that's 44 goals in all competitions, including eight hat tricks. The man they call Fash is the league’s top scorer, with more than double the tally of Braves’ Ross McNeil in second place.
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