Kelty Hearts 5-1 Gretna 2008
Football Nation Qualifying Cup Rnd3
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty made it ten wins in a row with a first half demolition of Gretna 2008 at New Central Park. A Nathan Austin hat trick, bookended by a Ross Philp strike and a Scott Linton penalty put the Fifers on easy street before the interval. Gretna gaffer Chris Humphrey pulled one back as the visitors rallied after the break, but they couldn’t stop Kelty progressing to the next round.
Barry Ferguson stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation that’s served Kelty so well this season.
Ben MacKenzie started in goal with a back four of skipper Gary Cennerazzo, Scott Linton, Tam Scobbie and Fernandy Mendy.
Thomas Reilly and Arnault Bembo were the two deep midfielders with Ross Philp, Cammy Russell and Dylan Easton supporting Nathan Austin up top.
Kelty have been a little slow out of the blocks in recent weeks, but started this one like a train, Easton, Russell and Philp all clearly in the mood. It was Philp who opened the scoring ten minutes in, running onto Austin’s knock down from Scobbie’s deep cross, controlling with his first touch and finishing with his second to get Kelty on their way.
Kelty are usually at their best when they play that little bit more direct and the second came from another quick ball out of defence. Mendy stepping up to the halfway line and sending it out to the right wing where Russell controlled it and fired it deep to the back post for Austin to nip and grab his first of the day.
Gretna were trying to get themselves back into it with the occasional foray up the other end, but it was already looking like an uphill struggle and things got a whole lot worse on 25 minutes. Russell was tearing the defence to shreds but they managed to half clear only as far as Bembo, who headed back into the box. Gueu failed to deal with the danger and Austin couldn’t believe his luck, slipping home his second of the day. That kind of defending against the league’s deadliest striker is asking for trouble and with less than a third of the game gone, Gretna looked dead & buried.
Gueu was immediately replaced by Hunter as the visitors attempted to shore up the leaky defence. The substitution didn’t exactly have the desired effect though as Kelty were awarded a penalty for handball within 5 minutes. Austin isn’t the regular penalty taker, but with the big man staring at an incredible eight minute hat trick, nobody was getting the ball from him. He duly dispatched his spot kick into the bottom right corner for his 33rd goal of the season.
The celebrations for number four were still going on when Philp was tripped in the box and the ref pointed to the spot again. With Austin’s hat trick in the bag, Linton was back on penalty duties and although keeper Taylor dived the right way, Linton’s kick was just too good, going in off the right hand post to make it 5-nil after 31 minutes. The combination of a ruthless Kelty front line and some suicidal defending from the visitors putting the result beyond doubt by halftime.
All the chat at the interval was about how many Kelty could score, but in truth the second half turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax. There was a lot to live up to after the first 45, but Kelty could afford to take a breather and Gretna’s priority was damage limitation.
Russell had the ball in the net on the hour mark after another surging run from Easton, but the linesman’s flag went up for offside even though it appeared to have been passed backward. Gretna pulled one back a minute later, gaffer Humphrey showing his team the way with an outrageous effort from long range that looped over MacKenzie into the top corner.
That was the only real highlight of the second half to be honest. Gretna had another couple of half chances and a string of corners, but couldn’t beat MacKenzie. Cennerazzo and Russell were finding acres of space down the right for Kelty, but Gretna were packing the 18 yard box and time after time, there was just no way through.
In the end, it was more than comfortable for Kelty, all the hard work done in a devastating 20 minute spell. The only blot on the landscape for Kelty was the late dismissal of Mendy for two yellow cards in quick succession, meaning he’ll miss the next round.
Supporters Man of the Match: On the strength of the first half, any of the Kelty front men would have had a good shout, but it’s impossible to ignore yet another hat trick from Nathan Austin, especially one scored in just 8 minutes. With 33 goals from 21 appearances, Fash looks on track for a record breaking season.
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