Kelty Hearts 3-1 Dalbeattie Star
William Hill Scottish Cup 1st Round Replay
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty overcame Dalbeattie at the second time of asking, with a comfortable win in the first Scottish Cup tie ever to be played at New Central Park. A Stuart Cargill wonder strike opened the scoring, before Brian Ritchie scored one and setup another on the stroke of half-time to help the Fifers advance to round 2 for the first time in their history.
These two played out a goalless draw down in the Borders last Saturday and Kelty made two changes to starting line up from that game. Murray Carstairs replacing Ciaren Chalmers at the centre of defence and Brian Ritchie in for Scott Dalziel up top.
Any fears of another nil-nil were banished early doors, thanks to a superb strike from Stuart Cargill just five minutes in. Carstairs long clearance from defence found Cargill wide on the right, and the wee striker flicked it past his marker with the head before smashing the half-volley high over keeper Parker from 30 yards. It was a good a goal as you'll see in the cup this season, and the mark of a striker in the form of his life.
The goal should have set Kelty on their way, but in reality they perhaps relaxed a little bit too much, and rather than pressing on they seemed content to keep possession and wait for the game to come to them. They were knocking the ball about well enough, but it took them a good fifteen minutes to get another decent look at goal, Cargill teeing up Stephen Husband, who saw his first effort saved and he scooped the rebound over bar onto the top of the net.
Kelty were comfortable enough, but a single goal lead is always precarious and Dalbeattie had enough about them to cause a couple of worrying moments for the home side. Kelty keeper Scott Christie saved well with his feet from Graham, and was relieved to see a Milligan free-kick slide narrowly past the post.
As the half wore on, the Fifers began to take more of a hold on the game though, Ian Nimmo & Shaun Greig starting to pull the strings in midfield. Cargill was rightly full of confidence, and looked capable of scoring every time he got the ball, but it was man of the match Brian Ritchie who did the damage with half-time approaching. With 43 minutes on the watch, Ritchie out-jumped everybody at the front post to head home an inch-perfect corner from Conrad Courts.
Two minutes later, Ritchie was in the thick of the action again, winning possession on the edge of the box and holding off the challenge, before rolling the ball into the path of Husband, who strode into the box and clipped a cute finish beyond Parker. They were two vital contributions from Ritchie, at a crucial period in the match that meant the sides headed for the half-time oranges with a very different complexion on the scoreline.
With the tie firmly under control, the job in the second-half was all about keeping things tight for Kelty. Star were still looking tasty on the counter attack but when they needed to, Kelty were more than happy to get the sleeves rolled-up to deny the visitors any real sniff at goal.
Kelty always looked like they had another gear and were still carving out chances of their own, Ricthie, Cargill, MacKenzie and substitute Hare all going close. Under-20's stars Liam Kelly and Archie Roue got a run out for the last fifteen and both youngsters showed they are more than ready to make the step up to the first team when called upon.
The only cloud in the sky for Kelty came ten minutes from time when a mix-up between Christie and Courts handed a gift to Dalbeattie, which Lewis Todd gratefully accepted and fired the ball high into the empty net. It was the first time in nearly nine hours of football that Christie had picked the ball out of his net, with five consecutive clean sheets before this match.
It was only a blip for Kelty, who had been guilty of letting leads slip early on in the season, but have worked hard to plug the leaky defence and are starting to look like a more solid proposition. Both full-backs, Courts on the left and Ford on the right, like to get forward at every opportunity but have also got the pace and the engine to get back and defend when needed. The centre-back pairing of Carstairs & Douglas were both guilty of over-playing a little in the first-half, but went back to basics in the second forty-five and looked much more comfortable.
There were plenty of contenders for Man of the Match, Ian Nimmo, Stephen Husband and of course Stuart Cargill all in with a shout. But Brian Ritchie's goal and assist at an important time in the game helped swing it Kelty's way, giving his side a lead to protect and won him the supporters vote.
So Kelty get their first ever win in the Scottish Cup, and they can continue to dream of getting their hands on that famous old trophy for a little while longer. Their next trip on the road to Hampden will be the long trek north to face League 2 outfit Peterhead in a month's time.
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