Kelty Hearts 3-2 Bonnyrigg Rose
New Central Park
Kelty made the most of the extra day of the year to leap clear of Bonnyrigg thanks to goals from Ross Philp, Dylan Easton and Nathan Austin. Lee Currie and George Hunter pulled Rose back into it to set up a grandstand finish, but Kelty held on to extend their lead at the top of the table to 6 points.
Kelty started well, Philip looking lively in the early exchanges and Easton with first proper effort of the match. Rose opted for the no nonsense start to the game, Moyes booked in the 8th minute for a crunching challenge on Reid just outside the box. Easton took the free kick but could only fire over the bar.
It was the biggest crowd of the season inside New Central Park and some of the calls from the visiting fans were tasteless to say the least, one or two of the travelling support clearly having over indulged in the Fife hospitality.
On the park and Kelty were starting to get into their stride, Barry Ferguson’s men snatching the lead on 15 minutes, Philp silencing the visiting fans with a tap in from 5 yards after Weir had blocked Husband’s shot.
The lead didn’t last long however, Rose levelling almost immediately through Currie’s sweetly hit free kick that left MacKenzie with no chance in the Kelty goal. The equaliser might have knocked Kelty out of their stride a little, but not for long as the hosts were soon back on the attack.
Philp and Reilly starting to see more and more of the ball. It was Easton who was really making Kelty tick though, drifting out wide to collect the ball, then cutting back inside and dragging defenders out of position. Rose were forced to double up in him whenever he got on the ball, but neither of his markers could do anything to stop him putting Kelty back in front on 25 minutes with an absolute stunner from 30 yards out. It was quite a strike and he did almost half a lap of New Central Park in celebration, colliding with the Rose goalie on en-route, before his team mates finally caught up with him and he disappeared under a pile of limbs. When he emerged from under the scrum, ref Mike Roncone flashed him a yellow for the celebration.
Although this was their first meeting in nearly 3 years, there have been a plenty of high stakes games between these sides over the last decade and a fierce rivalry has developed between the two. As a result, this game was always just simmering away under the surface and we were never too far away from the odd tasty tackle. Austin collided with Weir and the big keeper needed treatment for a split lip, Brown was booked for a waist high challenge on Reilly and in general, there was plenty going on to keep Roncone on his toes.
Kelty extended their lead in 38 minutes, Linton with a deep cross to the back post for Austin, who out jumped Baur and headed back across goal into the corner of the net. Kelty were enjoying their best spell of the game and wouldn’t have wanted half time to come. Linton came close to adding number 4 just minutes before the break, but his free kick went just wide.
The opening breezes of storm Jorge were just starting to blow, and Rose had the advantage of the wind behind them as they kicked off the second half. It was a frantic start to the half, Kelty with an early free kick after Reilly was chopped down on the touch line and Husband going close with a long-range effort. McGachie went down dramatically in the box but the ref didn’t want to know and Tidser hit a powerful free kick right into the arms of Weir. All in the opening ten minutes.
Rose were slowly starting to exert more and more pressure and the Kelty defence was beginning to creak. The visitors pegged the deficit back on 56 minutes after the Kelty defence failed to deal with an aerial ball and Hunter nipped in to pinch the ball and lob it over MacKenzie into the net.
The momentum was definitely with the visitors now and the home defence looked nervous with every ball into the box. As the pressure continued to build, there were a few scary moments for Kelty as Rose hit the bar and had a couple penalty shouts, both of which were speculative at best.
The action wasn’t all at one end though, Kelty still carrying a threat whenever they got forward. McGachie and Reilly clashed near the corner flag, the big powerful Rose target man coming off second best against the lightweight midfielder. Perhaps the best contest on the park was Philp versus Baur, two very different players up against each other was proving to be a very watchable matchup. Philp thought he’d restored Kelty’s two goal cushion in the 76th minute, finishing off a swift Husband counterattack, but the Bonnyrigg defence protested and linesman’s flag was quickly up.
With time ticking away, Rose were chucking everything at Kelty in search of an equaliser and although they looked shaky at times, the league leaders were hanging on. McGachie had a golden opportunity to get a point for his side in the dying minutes but although the big man managed to stay on his feet for once, he couldn’t hit the target and shot wide with just the keeper to beat.
It was a nail-biting finish to fascinating game, one which had a bit of everything you’d expect from a top of the table clash between two old rivals. A match with real combative spirit without ever crossing the line, a little bit of controversy, bags of tension and a contender for goal of the season from Dylan Easton.
So, it’s advantage Kelty in the title race as the league leaders now have clear daylight between them and second placed Rose. With the return fixture still to come at New Dundas Park next month, there’s still life in Bonnyrigg’s challenge. Next up for Kelty is the first of three cup and league games against BSC Glasgow on Friday night, while Rose have a chance to close the gap when they play host to Civil Service Stollers on Saturday.
Supporters Man Of The Match:
There were game winning performances from back to front for Kelty: Scobbie, Tidser, Reilly and Philp all stand outs in a real team performance. But it was Dylan Easton who was the star of the show from start to finish. Always looking for the ball, always testing the defence and with a top-drawer goal to cap off a superb performance.
See the complete match gallery HERE