Kelty Hearts 4
Burntisland Shipyard 0
East of Scotland League
New Central Park, Kelty, Fife.
The bells have only just stopped ringing, but Kelty were in no mood to share the festive cheer with their visitors in the Fife derby. Burntisland were the first footers at New Central Park, but they were soon shown the door as the league leaders started off the new year in the same way they finished the old.
Kelty manager Tom Courts had shuffled the pack by giving five youth players a game in a festive friendly a few days earlier. But this was back to league business and the starting eleven had a more familiar look about it with O'Neil, Carstairs, Ford, Greig, Talyor-MacKenzie and Philp all in from the start. It was also a second start in a row for Jordan Sheerin, alongside Errol Douglas in a powerful looking forward line.
And it was Sheerin who opened the scoring in the very first minute of the game. Douglas returned Elliot Ford's short throw-in, and Ford hung a deep cross to the back post for Sheerin to bravely head home from close range.
The big hitman has had a stop-start kind of season so far following an operation in the summer, but was clearly up for this one. As was his striking partner Douglas and between the two of them, they gave the visiting defence a tough afternoon.
Burntisland had suffered a 4 goal home defeat from Kelty earlier in the season, and were clearly keen to avoid a repeat. They set up with three central defenders and a deep lying midfielder just in front to give them some extra protection. Kelty's main threat was coming from the wide areas with both wing-backs, Conrad Courts on the left and Ford on the right, causing plenty of problems. Shipyard took to doubling up on their men every time the ball went wide, but the crosses were still finding their way in. But it was tight in the middle of the park and clear cut chances were few & far between: Douglas struck the post, Ford flashed a dangerous looking ball across the face of goal that the defender nearly turned into his own net, and the keeper plucked another one off Sheerin's forehead, but the scoreline stayed 1-0 at the break.
The second half started exactly the same way the first half had - with a Kelty goal in the opening minute. Ford forced his way into the box and fired in a low shot, which the keeper saved with his foot but Douglas was waiting on the six yard box to slam it into the net for 2-nil.
Within ten minutes, it was 3. Kelty won a corner on the left and the big men packed into the box. Husband shaped to float in a cross, but instead clipped a disguised pass to Taylor-MacKenzie who was unmarked on the edge and he drilled home left-footed from 20 yards. Whether it was one from the training ground, or a piece of quick thinking from Hubby, it was a well worked goal and the score was starting to reflect Kelty's dominance. The home side were enjoying the majority of possession and although Shipyard were always looking to break, their focus on defence was leaving them short of numbers up front and they failed to trouble a solid looking Kelty back four.
Mid-way through the half Courts made the unusual step of a triple substitution, changing almost his entire midfield: Greig, Husband and Taylor-MacKenzie all making way, and Nimmo, McCabe and Ritchie being introduced. One of Kelty's main weapons in this league has been their fitness, especially late in matches. This combined with their slick passing game which has helped them to give their opponents the run around. Introducing three pairs of fresh legs into a game that was already well won must have had Shipyard longing for the full-time whistle.
Brian Ritchie is another who's had a frustrating time with injuries this season and he marked his return to the side with a goal in the dying minutes, when Nimmo flicked the ball into his run and the big man slid a composed finish past the on-coming keeper.
So Kelty keep their 100% league run going, and set up themselves up nicely for their trip to title challengers Lothian Thistle in two weeks time. Before that, they have a break from the league when Threave Rovers are the visitors in the Cup.
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