League Decider for Kelty & LTHV
Kelty Hearts v Lothian Thistle Hutchinson Vale
East of Scotland League
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty will welcome LTHV to New Central Park today, knowing that only a win will do, as the East of Scotland League's top two go head to head in the final game to decide this season's title.
Both sides have a near flawless record this season, with leaders Vale having dropped just two points and Kelty only three. Vale are the only side to have beaten Kelty in the league this season, and have had the upper hand over their hosts in the cup too. Three 1-nil victories from three meetings, will give the Edinburgh side the psychological edge going into the game. But the Fifers know what it takes to win league titles, and have more than enough quality in their ranks to finish the job.
Kelty are the leagues top scorers by far, having found the net no less than 140 times this season. In Stuart Cargill, Errol Douglas and Scott Dalziell, Kelty have the leagues most deadly strike force, and with midfielders like Stephen Husband, Neil McCabe and Brian Ritchie, all of whom get their names on the scoresheet on a regular basis, the Fifers are not short of fire power. But having failed to score in three games against Vale, Manager Thomas Courts will know that the first goal will be the key. Thistle have proved that they can shut down the game when the take the lead, so Kelty can't afford to let the visitors get their noses in front.
Kelty are a naturally attacking side, but they don't concede many goals either - only losing 11 in their 23 league matches. There have however been occasional lapses in concentration at the back though, and the defence will need to be on their toes for the whole 90 minutes. LTHV have the quality to hurt Kelty, players like Louis Swanson, Sean Wringe and Samuel Nhamuro, are all plenty capable of doing the damage.
A draw is good enough for Thistle, and their main focus will be on keeping a clean sheet. Kelty on the other hand need to win, which means they will have to score against a side that don't give much away.
Discipline will of course be another important factor, and in a match with so much at stake, expect plenty of tough tackling. Kelty need to keep 11 players on the park, so they cannot afford to let any frustration creep into their game.
Kelty midfielder Stephen Husband is their driving force in the middle of the park. Hubby had a relatively quiet game at Saughton last week, but his vision and range of passing could hold the key to this match. Deadly at set-pieces, and always liable to pop up with a goal, he is the man that makes this Kelty side tick. On his day, a potential match winner for the Fifers.
Goalkeeper Kevin Swain was the LTHV hero when the sides met at Saughton last week. Saving a penalty, and pulling out a string of match winning saves, he did more than any other player to secure the vital 3 points for his side. Expect Swainy to be in the thick of the action again this week as Kelty go on the hunt for the crucial goals they need to win the league.
Scott Christie has been a rock at the back for Kelty all season long, and should start in the sticks, with Sean O'Neil and Murray Carstairs in the centre of defence. Courts has used various combinations of full-back this season, but most likely selection will be Conrad Courts at left-back and Elliot Ford on the right.
Captain Shaun Greig only lasted 25 minutes last week, so could be doubtful for today. If the skipper isn't fit, either Ian Nimmo or Ross Philp will come into midfield alongside Husband and Scott Taylor Mackenzie. Brian Ritchie provides the best link between midfield and the front two and should start in the hole just behind Scott Dalziel and Stuart Cargill.
The match is on Saturday 28 April at New Central Park, Bath Street, Kelty and kicks off at 2.30pm.