Kelty Hearts 3
Stirling University 0
East of Scotland Cup Qualifying Group
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty got their home campaign off to the bet possible start with a convincing win over Stirling Uni in this EoS Qualifying Group match. The performance was even more convincing than the score-line suggests, but some slack finishing combined with a superb goalkeeping show, kept the visitors in the tie longer than they deserved to be.
The goalkeeping performance was all the more remarkable considering it came from a substitute who normally plays at left back. First choice keeper Sam MacLean was injured in the opening minutes in a clash with Kelty forward Brian Ritchie. It was an innocent enough looking challenge, but MacLean wasn't able to continue, and with no substitute keeper on the bench, it was defender Tony McGuire who had to pull on the gloves.
The Kelty side had a new look to it, with five summer signings making their competitive home debuts. The home side totally controlled the first half but couldn't get the break through their domination deserved. Both Dalziel and Douglas had plenty of opportunities to open the scoring, but weren't able to beat the stand-in keeper. Ritchie himself was struggling with injury, and was withdrawn as a precaution shortly before half-time, replaced by McCabe.
Kelty's dominance continued after the interval, but they still could not find a way past McGuire and the signs of frustration were starting to show. The visitors struggled to put any real pressure on the home defence, and seemed content to get men behind the ball. It took until the 70th minute for Kelty to finally make the break through, and it was largely thanks to new signing Scott Taylor-Mackenzie. The left-back delivered a cracking free-kick from the edge of the box which the keeper could only parry and Dalziel was on hand to nod home from close range. It was no more than the home side deserved and the relief was felt all round New Central Park.
Dalziel was taken off shortly afterwards, replaced by Archie Campbell, who wasted no time in doubling the lead. Taylor-Mackenzie whipped in a tempting looking cross and Campbell got his head to it to flick it high over the keeper into the roof of the net. Eight minutes later, Campbell got his second and Kelty's third. Errol Douglas turned his man on the touchline and slid forward a perfect ball that split the defence and fell right into Campbell's path. The sub kept his cool to take it round the stand-in keeper and slot home from a tight angle to wrap up a well deserved win.
Kelty player manager Tom Courts will be happy to make it through to the next round of the cup, but must be left wondering how his side didn't manage a few more goals that the performance deserved. There will be tougher challenges ahead for Kelty this season, but they couldn't have hoped for a better start to life in the senior ranks. Next up is a home tie in the William Hill Scottish Cup preliminary round against Lothian Thistle Hutchinson Vale.