Kelty Hearts 2
Threave Rovers 2
(Threave win 5-4 on penalties)
South Region Challenge Cup
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty’s cup misery continued as Threave Rovers squeezed through to the 4th round of the South Region Challenge Cup at New Central Park. While the Fifers have a flawless league record, they have lost only three games all season long, and all three have come in cup competition.
Manager Tom Courts sprung a few surprises with is team selection, leaving out Errol Douglas, Scott Taylor MacKenzie and Elliot Ford, while Brian Ritchie started only his eighth game of an injury hit season.
Kelty were quick out of the blocks though, and almost made a perfect start straight from kick-off. Stephen Husband launched the ball long from midfield, Scott Dalziel rose highest and flicked it down to Jordan Sheerin who smashed his drive against post to the relief of the Rovers keeper.
The home side sensed an early goal might be on the cards and Dalziel, Ritchie & Husband all had a pop at goal. The visitors were focussed on keeping the back door shut, and it took them a good ten minutes to test the Kelty defence, Christie saving well with his feet, before watching another shot go high & wide.
But it was Kelty who took the lead in the 10th minute after Greig, Richie and Courts combined well down the left hand side. The Rovers defence thought they’d dealt with the danger, but as the ball was rolling out for a corner, Dalziel reacted quickest. He got there before it crossed the line, squared it for Sheerin, who tapped into the net from the six yard line. The visitors appealed for an offside flag, but after a quick discussion with his linesman, the ref gave the goal.
Kelty had their noses in front and were looking comfortable, but it was short lived as they were soon down to ten men. Rovers played a long hopeful ball forward which Sean O’Neil got caught underneath, he let his man get on the wrong side and pulled him down on the edge of the box. Big Shaq is normally the coolest man on the park, but he’d already had a couple of shaky moments in the game and he left ref no option but to send him off. It was a double blow for Kelty, who had to sub off the hardworking Nimmo and introduce Leighton to keep the back four in-tact.
Even with the man short, Kelty were making all the running, with both wing-backs taking turns to whip in crosses, but neither of the front two could take advantage. Threave were doing their best to keep it tight in the middle the park, but Husband & Greig were finding space although both seems reluctant to have a shot.
Rovers did get level midway through the second half, and it was thanks to another moment of uncertainty in the Kelty defence. As Threave pushed forward at speed, Kelty hesitated and the ball broke to Couper on the right, who took a touch and fired his shot low across the keeper and into the net. With 25 minutes to go and a man down, the home fans began to fear the worst, but even this wasn't enough to temp Threave to have a go and Kelty still looked the more dangerous side.
There was a moment of worry for Kelty, when the Rovers keeper rushed from his line to clear with his head and collided heavily with Dalziel, catching him across the face with his forearm. With all three subs used, it looked like the home side would have to finish the match with nine men, but that was quickly forgotten as the big striker lay motionless on the pitch. Thankfully, he was able to continue after some treatment, although he still looked a bit second hand.
The 90 minutes finished with the score 1-1, and so it was into extra time. Kelty would have felt confident, as they were still the better side, but it was Threave who took the lead in the first period. A long throw-in on the right was cleared, but only as far as Wilby, who fired in a cracking shot from 20 yards out to stun the Fifers.
Kelty had to go for it now, and were throwing the kitchen sink at Rovers, and they got their reward at the start of the second period. Husband floated a tempting corner to the back post, Leighton headed it back across the goal for Dalziel, who controlled it with his chest and stabbed it home through a crowd of bodies.
Rovers also finished the game with 10 men when Irvine was shown a red for hauling down Errol Douglas, but it was too late to make any real difference. In the dying minutes Kelty had three decent penalty shouts but the ref, who had been inconsistent throughout, clearly didn't fancy making such a big decision so late in the game. The most he gave was a free-kick on the edge of the box, which substitute Taylor-MacKenzie sent just over the bar to take the tie to a shoot out.
Ross Philp, who'd had an outstanding match a right-back, went first and sent his kick low toward the corner, but Gemmell got down to keep it out. There then followed eight perfect spot kicks, leaving Couper with the last kick to send his side through, which he did with a fine pen into the top corner.
So Kelty are out of another cup competition, and must now lift themselves for their biggest league challenge so far, with an away trip to Lothian Thistle this coming Saturday.
See the full photo gallery HERE