Updated: Nov 28, 2021
Kelty Hearts 2-0 Stenhousemuir
New Central Park, Kelty
SPFL League 2
Kelty maintained their lead at the top of League 2 thanks to an early goal in each half. Connor Barron bagged his first goal in a maroon shirt with a first half strike, and Joe Cardle added number two immediately after half time. In form Stenny gave the league leaders a run for their money, but another clean sheet secured all three points for Kevin Thomson’s side.
Thomson made three changes to the side that beat Forfar last week: Ross Philp, Kieran Ngwenya and Alfie Agyeman returning to the starting lineup, Finlayson, O’Ware and Austin making way. Kelty lined up in their familiar 4-3-3 with Darren Jamieson in goal, Dougie Hill and Jordan Forster in the centre of defence, Philp at right back and Ngwenya on the left. Skipper Michael Tidser, Barron and Andy Black in midfield with Kallum Higginbotham, Cardle and Agyeman up top. Stenhousemuir went with David Wilson in goal, Michael Miller, Nicolas Jamieson, Sean Crichton and Ross Lyon at the back. Darren Christie, Ross Forbes, Michael Anderson and Declan Hughes in midfield with Adam Brown & Euan O’Reilly in attack.
The hosts got off to the perfect start, making the breakthrough after just six minutes. Black made a rare foray forward, jinked past his man and slipped the ball through for Barron to step onto, and the wee midfielder stroked it beyond Wilson to open his account.
Stenhousemuir made a decent start to the match themselves, creating a couple of good chances of their own. Jamieson had to be alert to save from Brown after a sweeping move forward, while Forbes went close with a free kick from a good position that just skimmed over the bar.
Kelty have been a little slow getting started in recent games, but with two natural wing-backs giving more quality in wide areas they always look like they carried a threat going forward. The early goal meant that Stenny had to commit men forward, opening things up a little, and the game always all the better for it. The first half clattered along at a lively pace, apart from a brief delay while the linesman sorted out some trouble with his flag. It was a competitive match and midfield was a bit of a battleground with numerous stoppages for players from both sides to receive attention, but the game was played in the right spirit with neither side overstepping the mark.
Kelty had a couple of chances to increase their lead before the interval, Cardle, Philp and Agyeman all looking lively. Stenny finished the half strongly, with a good spell of sustained pressure, but neither side could add to the scoring.
The second half was a carbon copy of the first. The early goal came after some good play from Agyeman and Higginbotham combining to set up Cardle on the edge of the box, who worked his way into space, picked his spot and slammed home.
Kelty had their tails up by now and probably could have added another couple to the scoreline. Although Stenny were still scrapping, Kelty were starting to get a stranglehold in midfield, Tidser pulling the strings, with Black and Barron winning everything and dictating the tempo. The Fifers have obviously been working on set-pieces on the training ground, with a couple of pre-rehearsed moves that looked promising but didn’t quite come off. The best chance to increase their lead came when Cardle teed up Higginbotham to let fly from 25 yards out, but Wilson had it covered all the way.
As with the first half, Stenny finished the game with another good spell of pressure, O’Reilly, Anderson and sub Coll all with good chances to pull one back, but once again, they just couldn’t find a way through the meanest defence in the league. Hill and Forster outstanding again at the back, while Jamieson was a little busier than usual but, still dealt comfortably with everything that came his way.
There’s a break from league business next week for these two sides, both with home Scottish Cup 3rd Round ties. Stenny will host Airdrieonians, whilst Montrose are the visitors to New Central Park.
Man of the Match: Any one of the Kelty midfield were in with a chance, but it was Connor Barron who got the vote. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in recent weeks, but today he was able to piece those together into a top notch display. Full of energy, strong in the tackle, precise with his passing and a fine goal to put the icing on the cake.
See the full match galler HERE