Kelty Hearts 5-0 Civil Service Strollers
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty eased into second spot in the table with another stylish performance against Civil Service Strollers at New Central Park. Strollers should have been the Hearts toughest test of the season so far, but the visitors couldn’t live with the home side and were blown away by a Nathan Austin double, Scott Linton penalty and strikes from Chris Dodds and Stuart Cargill.
Gaffer Barry Ferguson made just one change to the Kelty side that knocked Kilmarnock out of the cup in midweek - Chris Dodds returning to the starting lineup with Ross Mutch dropping to the bench. The Fifers lined up with Ben McKenzie in goal, Danny Ashe alongside captain Murray Carstairs in central defence with Gary Cennerazzo at right back and Scott Linton on the left. Thomas Reilly and Sean McKirdy were the two sitting midfielders behind Dodds, Stephen Husband and Ross Philp, with Nathan Austin up top.
Kelty made their characteristic quick start, testing the visiting defence right from the first whistle. The Strollers backline had a strong look about it and although Austin has proved to be a real handful for defences, Frazer Paterson and Shaun Turnbull seemed more than capable of looking after themselves. It took Austin just eight minutes to draw first blood however, holding off the challenge to wriggle between the two centre halves and slot the opener past Stuart Burnside.
Fash was clearly enjoying the physical battle and nearly got number two a couple of minutes later, but his shot went just wide. He didn’t have to wait too long for his second though, charging down an attempted clearance and exchanging passes with Dodds before rolling home his 7th goal of the season after just 14 minutes.
The big striker went down under a heavy challenge, but was soon back on his feet and running at the defence again. That run was his last contribution though as he signalled to the bench that he was feeling his hamstring. When he went down again, it was clear his game was over and he was replaced by Ross Mutch after 22 minutes.
The substitution knocked Kelty out of their stride a little, Mutch was still making the same runs as Fash, but didn’t carry the same physical threat. With the defence suddenly having an easier time of it, Strollers began to grow into the game and enjoyed their best spell. Kelty were unhappy with Cammy Muirhead’s challenge on Carstairs when it looked like the forward had thrown an elbow, and after a conflab with his linesman, ref Dickson flashed the yellow card to the Civil man. It was a bit of an untidy finish to the half with a series of annoying fouls breaking the rhythm of the match.
Ferguson’s half-time talk must have done the business because Kelty started the second half the same way they’d started the first. Just three minutes in and it was 3-nil, Linton making no mistake from the spot after a shove in the back on Mutch.
Four minutes later and it was four. Burnside somehow managed to block Husband’s half-volley from the edge of the box, but pushed it only as far as Dodds, who slipped home his first of the season.
That was the killer blow for Strollers and with more than half an our still to play, it looked they could be on the wrong end of a cricket score. To their credit though, they dug in and managed to keep Kelty at bay for most of the half. It wasn’t pretty at times and although the never really had too many sights of the Kelty goal, they did manage to limit the hosts to nothing more than a few half chances. Ashe, Philp and Husband all had opportunities to add to the scoring, but the defence was doing enough to limit the damage.
To be fair, Kelty did seem to take the foot off the gas a little and always looked like they had another gear. They were still moving the ball around quickly, but it was more side-to-side than back-to-front, happy to keep possession and wait for the chances to come to them. Philp was lively in the final third, McKirdy buzzing around winning tackles in the midfield and Ashe always liable to unleash a killer ball out from the back.
Brian Ritchie and Stuart Cargill came off the bench for the last ten minutes and it only took Cargill four minutes to get his name on the scoresheet. Mutch nicked possession in midfield and slipped it to the sub, who tucked it away into the corner of the net with his trademark composure.
5-0 it finished then, another slick performance from Kelty against a side that are much better than this scoreline suggests. Strollers definitely have the quality to cause any team problems, but on the day they just came up against a Kelty side who are enjoying a flying start to the season and seem to be growing in confidence with every game.
Kelty now climb to second in the table with 9 points out of 9, just a point behind newcomers Bonnyrigg Rose, who’ve played a game more. The first defeat of the season for Strollers sees them slip to 7th spot, one of a handful of sides on 7 points. Next for Kelty is another stern test with the midweek trip south to face Annan Athletic in the cup.
Supporters Man of the Match: once again the fans had no shortage of candidates to pick from: Cennerazzo, Ashe, McKirdy, Husband, Linton and Dodds all in with a shout from another decent team performance. It was Ross Philp who got the award though, the midfielder looking back to his best after last season’s injury nightmare.
Check out all the match photos HERE