Kelty Hearts 7
Stirling University 0
East of Scotland League
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty kept up their perfect league record with another slick performance against a stubborn Stirling Uni side. It was a bit of a slow burner this one, with the league leaders not really finding their stride until the second half. Although the Fifers won the cup tie when these two sides met back in August, Stirling had made life difficult for them and for a long time this one looked like it might go the same way.
The Kelty back four had a bit of an unusual look to it, with both Carstairs and O'Neil missing from the starting eleven, leaving striker Errol Douglas to fill in at centre back alongside Garry Leighton. Skipper Shaun Greig was also missing, with Ian Nimmo taking over in the centre of the four man midfield, top scorer Scott Dalziel getting the armband and Stuart Cargill back in as his strike partner.
The visitors were clearly concentrating on trying to frustrate the highest scoring side in the league, with three central defenders and the two wide midfielders dropping in as full-backs, leaving a lone front man in attack. And those tactics seemed to work for most of the first half, as they sat on the 18 yard line and denied the home side any space. The Kelty build up was slow and too many passes were being intercepted. The Fifers normally use their attacking full-backs to good effect, but even they were struggling to make any impact.
It was only when they were able to draw the visitors out and counter with pace that Kelty were able to cause any real problems, and it was exactly that that lead to the breakthrough on the half hour. Husband picked up the ball from his keeper and fired in a long speculative ball, which the Stirling defence failed to deal with. It broke to Dalziel, who managed to get a toe to it before he was caught with a late tackle and the ref pointed to the spot. Cargill dispatched the penalty with a clinical finish, sending Allan the wrong way, and that was the difference between the sides at the interval.
Into the second half, and Kelty began to get the measure of the visitors. The passing was sharper and a little more direct, and wing backs Ford and Courts were starting to see more of the ball. Within eight minutes of the re-start Dalziel had doubled the lead, heading home Philp's flick from Taylor-Mackenzie's corner. Five minutes later Dalziel grabbed his second, set-up by Cargill from another fine Taylor-Mackenzie cross. And with that, Kelty were off & running. The space that Stirling had denied so well in the first half was suddenly opening up, and were gaps appearing everywhere
Dalziel and Cargill went off, replaced by Sheerin and Ritchie, and the subs almost made an immediate impact but the keeper saved well. Ross Philp scored number four, flicking home a corner kick at the near post, Taylor-Mackenzie again supplying the ammo. Philp then turned provider, combining well with Ford to set up Ritchie who slammed home number five from a tight angle. Kelty used their final substitution, Husband being replaced by McCabe, who grabbed a quick fire double in the dying minutes to round off the scoring.
Kelty had totally blown the visitors away in devastating second half performance, and given their goal difference a healthy boost in the process. The Fifers league tally now sits at an incredible 95 for the season, with only 7 conceded. Next week Kelty will face Tynecastle at home after the match, which was due to have been played in Edinburgh, was switched due to forecast bad weather.
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