Kelty Back On Track
Kelty Hearts 3-0 Gala Fairydean Rovers
New Central Park
Kelty got over their Scottish Cup headache with a fine 3- nil win over Gala at New Central Park. Barry Ferguson’s side picked themselves up from last week’s exit at the hands of Auchinleck and turned their minds back to league business, goals from Ross Philp, Cammy Russell and Nathan Austin giving them all three points.
Ferguson made two changes to the side that started against Auchinleck last week: Philp back in the starting eleven and new signing Tam Scobie making his debut, with Murray Carstairs and Russell dropping to the bench. The Kelty gaffer was forced into an early change though, Sean McKirdy going down with what looked like a knee injury to be replaced by Russell just four minutes in.
Whether the injury knocked them off their stride a bit, or whether they were still feeling the effects of the cup defeat, Kelty looked a bit flat in the first ten minutes. They were moving the ball about well enough but seemed to lack a bit of conviction about their attack. Gala must have sensed this and looked like they might give the hosts a run for their money in the opening 20 minutes.
Kelty gradually began to play their way into it though, Chris Dodd going close himself and then setting up Russell and Scott Linton in quick succession. Linton then had another go from a free kick which keeper Morton got down well at his near post to stop. You began to get the vibe that a goal was coming though and it was Ross Philp who did the honours, controlling, turning and firing home from the edge of the box (although there was a hint of a deflection off Austin).
Kelty were enjoying most of the possession at this stage, but Gala weren’t out of it by any means and Galbraith passed up a chance to draw level with a poor free kick from a promising position. Former Kelty favourite Scott Taylor MacKenzie was playing well on his return to his old stomping ground and Steven Husband was booked for taking out his ex-teammate just before the break.
The half-time cuppa seemed to do the trick for Kelty, looking brighter and sharper at the start of the second half. Gala’s caused wasn’t helped when they went down to ten men on 52 minutes, ref Barry Dickson showing Lewis Grant a straight red for a late tackle on Linton. It might have been a tiny bit harsh on the Gala man, but with more than half an hour still to play, the visitors were definitely up against it now.
Russell was coming more into the game and linking up well with Gary Cennerazzo down the Kelty right and it was Russell who punished the visitors just two minutes later. Morton couldn’t hold onto Philp’s shot and it looked like he pulled back Austin as they both went for the loose ball. Russell didn’t hesitate though, slamming the ball into the net to double the lead.
Austin made it three just after the hour mark in typical Fash style, holding off the challenge, beating his man over three yards and slotting home low past the keeper. To their credit, Gala didn’t fold like some teams have done here this season, creating a few openings and testing Kelty even at three - nil down. The best of them came from Mackenzie, who was known for his free kicks in his days in maroon and nearly reminded the Kelty fans with a well struck dead ball that his namesake in the Kelty goal had to be at full-stretch to keep out.
It wasn’t exactly vintage Kelty, but the gaffer would have been looking for a reaction after the disappointing performance in the cup and can be chuffed with the way his side bounced back. The three points keeps the Fifers in second spot in the table, just one behind Bonnyrigg and still with a game in hand, while Fairydean remain in 11th. With a midweek Lowland League programme this week, both sides now have away games on Tuesday, Kelty at Stirling Uni and Gala at Gretna.
Ref Watch: not an awful lot for Dickson to do in all honesty. May have been a little hasty in sending Grant off for a tackle that was late but not exactly nasty. Might have given a penalty in the build up to the second goal, but Russell scored before he was forced to make a decision.
Fans Man of the Match: Ross Philp is one of those rare players that can play well in virtually any position and looks back to his best after a season wrecked by injury. Scored the first and had a hand in the second.
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