Updated: Aug 1, 2021
Kelty Hearts 2-0 Cowdenbeath
SPFL League 2
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty Hearts marked their arrival in the SPFL with a comfortable 2-nil win over their nearest neighbours, Cowdenbeath at New Central Park. Strikes either side of half-time from Joe Cardle and Ross Philp, helped by a superb penalty save from Darren Jamieson, did the damage for Kevin Thomson’s side. A much improved second half display from Cowdenbeath wasn’t enough to stop the league newcomers taking the points and the bragging rights on opening day.
Much has changed at NCP since Michael Tidser’s strike against Brechin sealed Kelty’s place in the SPFL 69 days ago, with a new resident in the gaffer’s office and six new faces in the starting line up. Clean-sheet king Darren Jamieson started in goal, with Ross Philp at right back alongside a trio of new signings: Reis Peggie, Jordan Forster and Thomas O’Ware making up the back four. Jamie Barjonas fitted into a three-man midfield alongside Thomas Reilly and skipper Michael Tidser. Up top, there were another two new faces, Joe Cardle and Alfredo Agyeman partnering Kallum Higginbotham in a 4-3-3 formation.
It was a bit of a slow start to the game, Kelty focusing on keeping the ball and patiently easing their way to their new league. Agyeman and Cardle saw plenty of the ball in the early stages, as did Peggie, pushing forward from the left back slot and linking up with the front men, but clear cut chances were few & far between. As for the visitors, they opted for the safety first approach, happy to clear their lines and not give any opening day presents away to their hosts. Cowden’s best chance in the opening spell came courtesy of Craig Barr, but his shot was straight at Jamieson, who held it well.
As the half hour approached, Kelty began to look a bit more comfortable and the chances started to come. Cardle setup Agyeman who’s header went just wide. Gill had to be on his toes to save from Barjonas twice in as many minutes, and then from Cardle as the pressure began to build. The breakthrough came after 40 minutes, Kelty winning possession in midfield and breaking quickly. Cowdenbeath thought they should’ve had a free-kick, but ref Callum Scott waved play-on and Cardle didn’t hang around to argue, bursting clear, cutting inside and finishing low past Gill. Kelty’s first league goal as an SPFL club, giving them a well deserved lead at the break.
Cowdenbeath didn’t really offer too much in the first half, but they seemed to have a bit more about them after the interval. They were at it right from the whistle, pinning the hosts back in their own box, forcing them to defend deep and denying them the space to get their passing game going. The visitors had two penalty shouts, both for handball, in quick succession but the ref didn’t want to know and waved a couple of yellow cards in Cowden’s direction for protesting too strongly. The sense of injustice seemed to spur the visitors on even more and it seemed to have paid off on 52 minutes, when they got their penalty at the third time of asking. Liam Buchanan took the spot kick, but Jamieson saved brilliantly, diving low to his left to keep his side in front.
Still Cowdenbeath kept pressing, Renton and Buchanan both forcing saves from DJ to deny the equaliser. Kelty gaffer Thomson made a couple of tactical changes in an effort to try and wrestle the momentum back: Biabi replacing Agyeman up front and Hooper replacing Reilly, the substitute dropping into right back, freeing Philp to take up the vacant midfield slot. The switch seemed to do the trick and Kelty began to get control of the midfield again. Philp gave Kelty a cushion on 68 minutes, a surging run, a neat one-two and a crisp finish past Gill to double the lead.
That was job done for Kelty really. Biabi had a couple of opportunities to extend the lead and on another day, he could have put a bit of gloss on the scoreline. But in the end, they did what was needed to get over the line and probably had another gear if it had been necessary. As for Cowdenbeath, after a poor first 45 they gave a much better account of themselves in the second half, but in truth never really looked like taking anything from this game.
Physically, there’s only about 3 miles between the home grounds of these two clubs, but the gap between them only seems like getting bigger. Even at this embryonic stage of the season, these two sides already look like they’ll be competing at opposite ends of the League 2 table. Next up for Kelty is a trip to Forthbank to face Stirling Albion, while Cowdenbeath will play host to Elgin City.
Man of The Match: Joe Cardle was lively all day long. Always available, always on the front foot, he was a real thorn in Cowdenbeath’s flesh. Took his goal well, scoring at the perfect time to settle his team’s nerves and set them on their way to an opening day win.
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