Kelty Hearts 2
East Stirlingshire 1
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty kept their impressive run going with another win in this mid-season friendly over a handy looking East Stirlingshire side. Hearts have a decent record against opponents from higher leagues this season and the visitors were clearly in no mood to become another scalp. They gave their hosts a decent workout and made sure they knew they'd been in a game.
Kelty welcomed back captain Shaun Grieg after a few weeks on the sidelines, and he got his side on the attack straight from kick-off, feeding Ross Philp, who hung a tempting looking cross that was just a little too long for Scott Dalziel. It was Neil McCabe who got the first real look at goal, beating the off-side trap to get on the end of a flicked on bye-kick, but Shire keeper Barclay did well to block the shot with his feet and smother the loose ball.
Shire were giving as good as they got, and probably looked the more dangerous side in the opening few minutes: Murray Carstairs having to clear off the line from a corner; and Scott Christie needing two goes at holding a driven shot, to keep the scores level. But it was Kelty who took the lead in the 14th minute: Steven Husband's floated corner kick was headed goalwards by Conrad Courts and Dalziel was on the line to flick it home from point blank range.
The goal was a little against the run of play, and the visitors were keen to make amends. The lead only lasted 5 minutes: Carstairs missed a tackle in the middle of the park and Shire broke quickly, the ball to the back post finding McCormack, who had time to pick his spot and draw his side level.
It was beginning to turn into an untidy game, and a couple late challenges changed the mood of the match a little. Both sides were getting stuck in, but the referee was keeping his card in his pocket.
Kelty got their second on the half hour, and once again Husband was the architect. His perfectly weighted pass from deep found Philp on the right, who cut in and fired a low ball across the six yard box. Both Dalziel and Douglas were charging in on goal, but it was Tapping who made contact, knocking into his own net from close range.
The Fifers were starting to take control now, with the strength of Errol Douglas beginning to show through. They thought they'd made it three a few minutes later when Husband & Philp combined again to set up Douglas who fired a header which the keeper couldn't hold and Dalziel slammed home the rebound, but was flagged off-side.
The first half finished with a few more tough challenges, and when the second half started the same way, it looked like things might turn nasty. It wasn't exactly a dirty game, but it was certainly a competitive friendly. It wasn't helped by some inconsistent refereeing, which was frustrating fans, players and benches alike.
There were no more goals, although both sides had the ball in the net in the second half, with both being flagged off-side. Both keepers also had good saves to make: Christie had to be at his best to keep out a long ball effort that was heading for the top corner; and Barclay got down well to his near post and stop a Scott Taylor-Mackenzie effort.
Perhaps the highlight of the second half for the Kelty fans was the return of Sean O'Neil to the centre of the defence following injury.
So, two back to back friendly winsfor Kelty, who are back in league action next week, with a trip to Edinburgh to face Leith Athletic.
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