Kelty Hearts 2-0 Camelon
Football Nations Cup
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty booked a place in the Football Nations Cup draw with a hard fought win over Camelon at New Central Park. They had to survive a few scares on the way, before second half goals from Chris Dodd and Murray Carstairs finally killed off the visitors in an engrossing cup tie to brighten up a cold January afternoon.
The Kelty starting line-up had a more familiar shape about it, gaffer Ferguson reverting to a 4-4-2 formation with Brian Ritchie up top alongside leading scorer Stuart Cargill.
With regular keeper Scott Christie missing through injury, Davie Manderson kept his place between the sticks after being voted man of the match last week.
With Elliot Ford also absent, Garry Leighton slotted in at right-back and Kier MacAulay made way for new signing Scott McBride to make his debut at left-back.
After a couple of shaky performances in recent weeks, Kelty looked more like their old selves, getting into their stride quickly and moving the ball around nicely. There were plenty of early touches for McBride as he looked to make an instant impression on the home fans.
Camelon weren't about to let the hosts have it all their own way though, and gave as good as they got in the early stages. Docherty pinched the ball off Douglas on the angle of the box but the defender recovered quickly to block the shot. Kay had the best chance of the half with a long range shot that looked in all the way but grazed the bar at the last second.
The match was played at good pace and really came to life in the 23rd minute with chances at both ends in quick succession. Camelon failed to clear a Stephen Husband corner, which broke to McBride on the edge of the box and only a goal-line clearance denied him a debut goal. The visitors countered quickly, but Anderson's shot went just wide.
These two sides have plenty of history from their Junior FA days, and although this was their first meeting for a couple of years, neither side were holding back in the tackle. It never looked like out of hand though and referee Gavin Ross seemed happy to let them get on with it, letting the game flow whenever he could. Ross Mutch was coming in for some rough treatment, the visitors obviously having done their homework and identified him as a danger man.
The fist half flew by, with chances at both ends. Kelty skipper Shaun Greig went close twice, Morrison blocking one effort and the other going just over the bar. Camelon goalie Shaw looked a bit uncomfortable at times and some hesitant handling nearly presented Errol Douglas with a chance, but the keeper did enough to put it out for a corner. At the other end the woodwork came to Kelty's rescue once again, Kieran Anderson's free-kick striking the bar with half-time in sight.
The second half started the way the first had ended with both sides battling for supremacy. For all Kelty's first half possession, the better chances had fallen to the visitors and the home side really needed a goal to settle the nerves. In the end, it took a moment of quality to break the deadlock and it came courtesy of Chris Dodd. Brian Ritchie had been winning the aerial battle all afternoon and his knockdown found Dodd, who stepped inside and placed his shot past Shaw from the edge of a crowded box.
The visitors response was instant, Alan Docherty racing beyond the home defence and firing a shot towards the bottom corner which Manderson did well to push away. The stand-in keeper had a fine afternoon, commanding his area and taking the pressure off his defenders. Kelty had a couple of chances to double their lead - Douglas with a run & shot to remind us that although he plays in defence now, he still has the pace & power that made him one of most feared strikers at this level. Shaw then somehow kept out a Ritchie header from point blank range to keep his side in it.
Still Camelon kept coming, Anderson beat the defence and it was only Murray Carstairs' perfectly timed sliding tackle that saved the day with the striker ready to pull the trigger. And it was Carstairs who eventually put the tie beyond the visitors with his second goal in a week, heading home Husband's corner ten minutes from time to finally put the game to bed.
So Kelty get their name into the hat for the semi-final draw and, perhaps more importantly, regain their winning touch after dropping league points with successive draws. Plenty of credit has to go to Camelon though, who gave a very good account of themselves and if they could have found that little bit of composure in front of goal, it could have been a very different afternoon.
The drama didn't end on the pitch though, as it emerged after the game that Man of the Match Chris Dodd had already appeared in the competition for his previous club and was therefore cup-tied. Kelty have owned up to their admin error, reporting the matter to the East of Scotland FA and now face an anxious wait to find out their fate.
With plenty of decent performers in maroon, there was no shortage of competition for the award. Brain Ritchie was a giant in the air, and both full backs Leighton and McBride were in with a shout. But Chris Dodd was at the centre of everything Kelty did and scored a peach of a goal to set his side on their way.
Full match gallery HERE