Kelty Hearts 4-0 Elgin City
SPFL League 2
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty avenged their recent Highland defeat with a dominant performance at New Central Park. These two met at Borough Briggs just 11 days ago, with Elgin taking an unexpected 2-0 win. But An Alfredo Agyeman double added to Kallum Higginbotham’s penalty & Michael Tidser’s free-kick ensured there would be no repeat as the league leaders racked up another three points at home.
Kelty were a bit short of central defenders, with Jordan Forster and Dougie Hill both missing, and lined up with Darren Jamieson in goal, Scott Hooper alongside Thomas O’Ware in the centre of defence, with Danny Finlayson at right-back and Kieran Ngwenya on the left. Andy Black and Jamie Barjonas were alongside skipper Tidser in central midfield, with Higginbotham and Joe Cardle – making his 500th career appearance, supporting Agyeman up top. Elgin made just one change from the side that beat Kelty at the end of January, Darryl McHardy making way for Aldin El-Zubaidi, as the lined up: McHale, Spark, Towler, El_Zubaidi, Draper, MacEwan, R Dingwall, Omar, Hester, Mailer, T Dingwall.
The home side were quick off the mark and took the lead after just five minutes. Barjonas made one of his penetrating runs from deep and fired a low drive at goal, which McHale could only parry. It should have been an easy clearance for Draper, but Agyeman reacted quickest to pinch it off his toe and as the two collided, Agyeman went down, and ref Grant Irvine pointed to the spot. The City players weren’t happy with the decision, but it certainly looked like Draper had caught him on the knee and in fairness to Irvine, in today’s game, most referees would have given it. When the dust settled, Higginbotham took the spot kick and sent to keeper the wrong way.
If there was any sense of injustice in the Elgin ranks, they failed to turn that into fire in the belly, and the visitors just looked a little bit sluggish. Kelty on the other hand looked sharper all over the park and were knocking the ball about with some confidence. Barjonas, Cardle and Agyeman all had chances to extend the lead, but none of them managed to hit the target.
Number two came just short of the half hour, after a patient spell of build up play from Kelty. Cardle collected the ball on the edge of the area and slipped it through to Agyeman on the angle of the 6-yard box, who took a touch to shift it out of his feet and fired it low across McHale into the bottom corner.
There were shouts for a second Kelty penalty just a couple minutes later after a bit of quick thinking from Barjonas, his through ball finding Agyeman on the run and the big striker’s pace taking him past Draper. Once again, the two of them got their feet tangled up and although the initial contact was outside, his momentum took him into the area as he fell. He did go down a bit theatrically though and that was probably enough to make up the ref’s mind, and he waved play on. It was starting to get a bit spicy between Agyeman & Draper though, and for a minute it looked as if it might boil over between the two number 22s.
2-nil has been a bit of a dodgy score line for Kelty of late having squandered half-time leads against both Edinburgh City and Stranraer in recent weeks. So there would have been a few nervous moments in the home dugout when Elgin hit the post in the opening minutes of the second half. The chance came to settle the nerves after Cardle was tripped on the edge of the box, and Tidser duly obliged, the captain curling his free-kick left footed round the wall and inside the far post to make it 3-0.
Tidser also had a hand in number four, the home defence giving him a little bit too much room to stride forward and unleash a long-range effort that McHale managed to touch onto the post. Once again Agyeman was first to react in the box, and despite the presence of two defenders, kept his cool to slot home the loose ball and kill-off the game with half an hour left on the watch. Alfie has had plenty of game time in the last few weeks and it’s starting to show in his performances. He’s a powerful striker who gives the side a bit more of a physical presence up top. Now he’s starting to find the net, there will be a few defenders in the league who have something else to keep them awake at night.
Just as in the first half, there was another 10-minute spell where some of the challenges in the middle of the park were getting bit tasty, and the ref had to get his notebook out a couple of times. Towler in particular can count himself a wee bit fortunate to escape with only a yellow after a late challenge on Cardle just as the Kelty man found himself with plenty of space in behind the City back line. But for the most part, Kelty were able to play the remaining half hour in second gear as the visitors had the look of a side whose thoughts had turned to the long journey home well before the final whistle. With the fifth round Scottish Cup tie at St Mirren on the horizon, Kevin Thomson was able to give a few players a bit of a rest ahead of a historic week for the club, and Botti Biabi and Thomas Reilly would have both been glad to get a good half hour in their legs.
Man of the Match: Cardle, Agyeman and Barjonas all had fine games in the attacking part of the pitch. But the supporters gave the nod to Thomas O’Ware, who once again kept everything nice and tight at the back, whilst always looking to setup the counter attack and giving his side an extra threat at set pieces.
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