Kelty Hearts 4-0 Gretna 2008
GeoSonic Lowland League
New Central Park, Kelty
While Storm Erik was causing havoc all over the country, Hurricane Kelty blew a gale to leave Gretna in a twister at New Central Park. A double from Murray Carstairs added to Brian Ritchie's opener and a Jack Hunter og, to blow the visitors away in the space of 15 first half minutes.
Kelty gaffer Barry Ferguson made just one change to the side that beat Edusport a fortnight ago, Kier MacAulay making way for new signing Kyle Wilson to make his debut. Ferguson experimented with the formation a fair bit in his first few games, but seems to have settled for a diamond 4-4-2, and the team is starting to look all the better for it. A back four of Garry Leighton, Scott McBride, Murray Carstairs and Errol Douglas lined up in front of keeper Scott Christie. Wilson slotted into the left side of midfield, Chris Dodds on the right, skipper Shaun Grieg as the anchor man and Stephen Husband at the point of the diamond, with a front two of Brian Ritchie and record breaker Stuart Cargill.
It could have been a very different afternoon for the visitors if they had been able to convert a second minute penalty, but Christie got down to his left to pull out a fantastic save from Smith's spot kick. Gretna didn't let the setback prey on their minds though and enjoyed a decent opening fifteen minutes, while Kelty huffed and puffed to try and get going.
Chris Dodds looked most likely for the hosts, driving at the visitors and giving the defence a torrid time as Kelty began to find their groove. There was an early blow for Kelty, when Wilson took a sore one in an accidental clash of heads. He dusted himself down and tried to continue, but was suffering with blurred vision and went off with suspected concussion just 20 minutes into his debut.
It took half an hour for the home side to break the deadlock, the visitors failed to deal with Husband's free-kick and Ritchie was on hand to force it home from the six yard box. The strong gusty wind was making it difficult in the air, and most likely played a factor in the second just two minutes later. Husband again suppling the ammo, his corner kick whipped right into the danger area, the flight of the ball catching Hunter out as he headed into his own net.
The Gretna defence was starting to look more and more vulnerable, especially at set pieces, as Kelty had the wind in their sails and were going in for the kill. Gretna were forced into a first half substitution themselves, Holliday replacing Connelly in the 35th minute. Mutch had a great chance to grab a third, but Atkinson was quick off his line to deny the substitute. With the interval fast approaching, Carstairs extended Kelty's lead with a header from another Husband corner. The big defender added a fourth from yet another Husband dead-ball on the stroke of half-time, taking his tally to four in four games, and making the points safe for Kelty.
The second half was a much quieter affair, both sides having to compete against the conditions as much as each other. Murray Carstairs had a good opportunity for his hat-trick and Kelty had plenty of chances to extend the lead - Ritchie, Cargill, Mutch and Husband all going close. Dodds tested Atkinson on a couple of occasions, his best chance striking the base of the post with the keeper beaten.
Gretna were in damage limitation mode for most of the second half, concentrating more in keeping the score down than in creating too much at the other end. Wadge took one for the team, bravely sliding in to block an Errol Douglas shot at the back post and catching a knee in the face for his trouble. He looked groggy for a few minutes, but was eventually able to continue.
Kelty were able to bring back Scott Dalziell and Elliot Ford for a brief run out, both having been missing from the line up for the last few weeks. In the end, both sides would have been glad to hear the final whistle and head for a warm shower in conditions that had made it a difficult afternoon for players, fans and photographers alike.
So it was very much "as you were" at the top of the table, with the top 4 all winning Kelty remain third just 3 point behind BSC and six ahead of Civil Service Strollers. Gretna stay in 12th place, wedged in between Edinburgh Uni and Vale of Leithen, all three comfortably clear of danger. Next up for Kelty is a trip south to face Gala Fairydean while Gretna host fellow strugglers Dalbeattie Star.
Man of the Match: Kelty playmakers Dodds and Husband both had fine afternoons, but it was Murray Carstairs who got the nod. The centre half is currently on a great run of form, having scored in three of the last four games as well as helping his side to three consecutive clean sheets. He shrugged off a second half hip knock to finish the 90 minutes and perhaps should have had a hat-trick.
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