Kelty Hearts 0-0 Vale of Leithen
new Central Park, Kelty
Kelty were held to a no-score draw by Vale of Leithen in their final home game of 2018 at New Central Park. Despite controlling the lions share of possession, and creating plenty of chances, Barry Ferguson's men failed to find the net for the second league game in a row.
There were nine league places and 15 points separating the two sides and Kelty started the game as clear favourites. With Stephen Husband, Stuart Cargill and Ciaren Chalmers all missing through suspension, the Fifers welcomed Scott Taylor Mackenzie back along with Ross Mutch, who has been recalled from his loan spell, and new signing Chris Dodd.
The first half was an instantly forgettable affair, with the game played in the middle of the park, and neither side really able to get anything going. It was a scruffy half of football, punctuated by numerous free-kicks as both teams cancelled each other out. On a dull December afternoon, the only brightness came from Ross Mutch, who looked like sparking the game into life every time he got on the ball.
There were shouts for a penalty from the home side in the 24th minute when Dalziell was sent tumbling in the box, by referee Reid wasn't interested. Dalziell himself was eventually booked for persistent fouling as the signs of frustration were beginning to show. Mutch & Ford were linking up well down the right, but each time the cross came it was dealt with by the Vale defence. Dodd had an acrobatic effort from the edge of the box, but the penalty area was just too crowded.
Kelty seemed to find another gear in the second half, but still could not find a way through the Vale defence. Ford struck the base of the post after some good link-up play with Mutch as Kelty started to find their stride. Captain Shaun Grieg had a go from the edge of the box, and went even closer a couple of minutes later, his header just a little too high.
With the chances starting to rack up, substitute Brian Ritchie returned to the side having recovered from surgery. Mutch was switched to the left side to partner up with fellow youth-team graduate Keir MacAulay, and continued to look threatening. Everybody in the ground thought he had given Kelty the lead with 15 minutes left with a powerful shot from the angle of the box that Ross Gilpin just got his finger-tips to.
Gilpin's finger-tips came to the rescue again, with another save from a MacKenzie free-kick that was heading for the net. There was some desperate defending from Vale at times, but they were holding back the tide. The visitors were clearly happy with a point, offering nothing up front and taking every possible opportunity to run down the clock. In the end, Kelty had racked up around twenty chances to Vale's two or three, but the only stat that counts is the scoreline and for all their chances, they just could not breakdown the visitors.
Kelty now head into their last game of 2018 away against Edinburgh University next Saturday, having slipped to third spot in the table. With the goals having dried up of late, they might have to ask Santa for a new pair of shooting boots before then.
Man of the Match: Skipper Shaun Grieg never stopped working, and new signing Chris Dodd showed flashes of what we can expect, but the only real candidate for the award was Ross Mutch. Always looking for the ball and always willing to take his man on, he was a thorn in Vale's flesh all day long.
Full match gallery HERE