Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Civil Service Strollers 2-3 Kelty Hearts
Christie Gillies Park
Kelty survived the difficult trip to Christie Gillies Park to take all three points against an organised looking Strollers side. The Lowland League Champions had to come from behind after Civil took the lead through a Badra Faye penalty midway through the first half. Michael Tidser equalised for Kelty, and Kallum Higginbotham & Ross Philip gave Kelty a cushion, but sub David Churchill pulled one back to make it a nervy end to the match.
Barry Ferguson made three changes to the side that lost narrowly against Dundee United in midweek, Philp, Robbie McNab and Craig Reid making way for Cammy Russell, Matty Flynn and Thomas Scobbie.
Darren Jamieson started in goal, with a back four of Paddy Boyle, Jamie Stevenson, Scott Hooper and Scobbie. Thomas Reilly, skipper Michael Tidser, Dylan Easton, Higginbotham and Russell made up a five-man midfield, with Flynn up top.
It was a scruffy start to the match as Kelty struggled to get a rhythm going on a tricky park that made playing on the deck difficult. The frustration from the Kelty bench was obvious early on, the management team shouting instructions to try and kick the team into gear.
Strollers were in no mood to roll out the welcome matt to their visitors, the tall man Badra Faye looking a real handful.
Kelty’s best chance in the early part of the game was Hooper’s header from a corner kick, that keeper Budinauckas did well to touch over the bar.
Strollers took the lead from the spot on the half-hour, Nico Gibson bundled over after a powerful run into the box, captain Badra Faye slotting his penalty past DJ in the Kelty goal.
Ferguson wasted no time making a tactical change, Ross Philp replacing a dejected looking Cammy Russell. The substitution had the desired effect as Kelty finally began to exert some real pressure on the Strollers defence. The Fifer’s capitalised on their best spell of the half, grabbing the equaliser through Tider’s low drive just before the break.
The COVID restrictions prevented Kelty from using the dressing rooms at the interval, so Ferguson had to give his team talk on the pitch and the gaffer didn’t hold back. The manager’s words must have done the trick, Kelty looking much more like themselves as the second half got underway.
Easton was suddenly seeing much more of the ball in dangerous areas, running at the Civil defence and committing players. Eight minutes after the break, the tricky winger cut in from the left with a couple of step-over that wrong-footed Jack Brydon, the Stollers full-back tripped Easton and the ref had no hesitation pointing to the spot. Higginbotham took the spot-kick, sending Budinauckas the wrong way to give Kelty the lead.
Kelty were finally starting to look themselves again: Easton, Philp and Higginbotham coming into the game more and more as the visitors ramped up the pressure. Kelty looked at their most dangerous down the left flank, and that was where number three was created, Easton linking up with Paddy Boyle, who got to the bye-line and fizzed a cut-back for Philp to knock home on 70 minutes.
Kelty might have thought that was job done, but Strollers had other ideas and the hosts weren’t out of it by any stretch. The back four were defending well and Gibson & Badra Faye were still testing Kelty on the break. Strollers pulled one back on 75 minutes, Brydon knocking a deep corner back into the danger area for Churchill to bundle over the line and set up a tense finish to the match.
Kelty held on though, the job made a little easier when Strollers went down to 10 men, last man McKee tripping Higginbotham as he sprinted toward goal.
So, a far from comfortable afternoon for Kelty, but they head back to Fife with all three points from a match that had the potential to de-rail the title challenge. Ferguson’s men are in action again next Saturday at home to Dalbeattie Star. Strollers will feel they deserved to take something from the game and will be a tough proposition for anybody visiting CGP this season. Next up for them is a trip to the Netherdale to face Gala Fairydean Rovers.
Man of the Match: Kelty looked a different side following the introduction of Ross Philp, who took his goal well. Both full-backs had a decent afternoon Paddy Boyle pushing forward on the left. But in the end, it was right back Jamie Stevenson who shaded it.
See the full match gallery HERE