Kelty Hearts 6-1 Albion Rovers
SPFL League 2
New Central Park
Kelty Hearts turned on the style with a Botti Biabi inspired demolition of Albion Rovers at New Central Park. The Kelty striker scored twice and assisted once as the Maroon Machine hit top gear. Another Nathan Austin double and one each from Jamie Barjonas and Danny Finlayson killed off Rovers, who had to settle for a Corey O’Donnell consolation goal.
Kelty gaffer Kevin Thomson rotated his squad a little, making four changes to the side that knocked Montrose out of the Scottish Cup last weekend: Jordon Forster, Kieran Ngwenya, Connor Barron, Barjonas and Biabi all coming back into the starting eleven. Kelty lined up with Darren Jamieson in goal and a back four of Ngwenya, Forster, Finlayson, and Dougie Hill. A three-man midfield of Barron, Barjonas and captain Michael Tidser, with Biabi wide left, Kallum Higginbotham on the right and Austin through the middle. Rovers went with Cameron Binnie in goal, Adam Fernie, James McGowan, Sean Fagan, and Alfie Robinson the back. Aron Lynas, David Wilson, Lewis Wilson, Charlie Reilly and Keiran Dolan in midfield with O’Donnell up top.
Kelty got off to the perfect start, Austin getting the opener after just three minutes. Barjonas with the ball from deep that beat the offside trap, Austin sitting Binnie on the deck before side-stepping the keeper and rolling it into the empty net. The Rovers defence were fuming at the linesman, but Fash was already off and celebrating with the Kelty fans.
Rovers almost had an instant response, but O’Donnell dragged his shot just past the base of Jamieson’s post. Kelty had the ball in the net twice more in the opening twenty minutes, but on both occasions, they were called back for offside. First Biabi held onto the ball a fraction too long and by the time he released it, Barjonas had drifted offside. Then Forster got his head onto Ngwenya’s cross, but once again the linesman’s flag was up before the ball hit the net.
When the second goal did eventually come, it came at the wrong end of the park for Kelty. O’Donnell strode forward unchallenged, Hill backed off, and the striker fired low into the bottom corner to bring Rovers back level.
After such a solid opening half-hour, Kelty looked a little shellshocked to be pegged back, and for a few minutes it looked like the visitors were going to make a game of it, but Kelty took the lead again ten minutes before the interval. Rovers failed to properly clear a corner and Hill flicked it onto Biabi, who wriggled into the box and all the way to the bye line, cutting it back for Finlayson to slot home from the six-yard box to bag his first goal for the club and restore Kelty’s advantage.
Just like in the first half, Kelty got off to a flier in the second forty-five and once again it was Nathan Austin that did the damage. Binnie dwelt too long on a short pass-back and Austin was on him in a flash. As the keeper tried to clear, Austin challenged, and the ball looped over Binnie and bounced on the line. It actually looked like it was going in, but Fash reacted quickest and tapped it home to make sure.
With clear daylight between the sides now, Kelty began to go through the gears. Biabi got his first of the afternoon just a couple of minutes later, Higginbotham riding a couple of challenges out on the right touchline and swinging in a cross. Robinson should have dealt with it easily but made a complete hash of it and there was Botti on hand to fire home number four for the hosts.
At 4-1, Kelty looked pretty comfortable, and the gaffer made a few changes: Cardle, Reilly, Agyeman, Black and Philp all coming into the game. In truth, this one was already over as a contest – sure Rovers had a couple of chances, O’Donnell still looking dangerous but despite hitting the bar, the visitors really didn’t look like they believed they could get back into it.
Number five came after Ngwenya crossed deep to the back post, Cardle helped it back into the middle and Biabi arrived to slam home his second of the game. Barjonas rounded off the scoring, applying the finish to another nice team move to celebrate his return from injury.
So with their biggest win of the season, Kelty maintain their seven-point lead at the top of the league heading into the festive fixtures. And with away trips to fourth placed Stranraer and third placed Annan over the Christmas period, the next couple of weeks could prove pivotal to Kelty’s season, before the visit of neighbours Cowdenbeath in the New Year fixture.
Man of the Match: Kelty fans have grown used to seeing Botti Biabi making substitute appearances, but on a rare start, he proved that he is more than capable of giving the gaffer another selection headache. With an energetic performance, he was at the heart of everything good for the league leaders, with two well taken goals to put the icing on the cake.
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