Penalty Loss Takes The Biscuit
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Kelty Hearts 1-1 Solihull Moors
Solihull win 4-2 on penalties
Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup
New Central Park
Kelty’s Caramel Wafer Cup challenge melted away in the late summer sunshine, losing on penalties to National League Solihull at New Central Park. The biggest crowd of the season saw Barry Ferguson’s side take the lead just before half-time through Cammy Russell. Mathew Stenson levelled for Moors 20 minutes from time, taking the tie to penalties and the West Midlands side held their nerve to progress into round 4.
Kelty were without suspended captain Murray Carstairs but welcomed back Sean McKirdy from injury.
In Carstairs’ absence, Gary Cennerazzo moved into the centre of defence alongside Danny Ashe, with Ross Philp at right back, Scott Linton on the left and Ben MacKenzie between the sticks.
McKirdy slotted in beside Thomas Reilly as the deep midfielders behind Chris Dodds, Cammy Russell and captain for the day Stephen Husband, with Nathan Austin up top in the now familiar 4-2-3-1 formation that Ferguson seems to favour.
It didn’t take long for the cup tie feel to come to the fore, Austin fouled on his first sight of the ball as the Moors defence looked to set tone right from the whistle. Ashe was next to go down under a challenge, the defender having to go off to get some blood cleaned up before returning. He was no sooner back than McKirdy needed treatment following a high tackle in the centre circle. Moors were certainly not shying away from the physical battle, three crunching challenges in the first 7 minutes as the visitors tried to stamp their authority on the game.
Kelty responded with some sweet football though, Russell with the first real chance of the day with a quick turn and shot from 25 yards out that forced an acrobatic save from Ryan Boot. Blissett then had a chance at the other end, getting the wrong side of Ashe, but MacKenzie gathered comfortably.
Both sides were moving the ball from back to front quickly, both looking for their respective target men. Solihull were stronger in the air but Kelty always looked better with it on the deck, Russell, Dodds and McKirdy looking dangerous with the ball at their feet. The contrast made for a very watchable game and the first half raced by.
Still the tackles were flying in and the free-kicks were starting to add up. Referee Rogers was keeping his cards in his pocket and the home fans were beginning to get frustrated with the way the visitors were disrupting play. Reckord got a finger wagging from the ref for taking Russell out, but still no card. Russell and Carter then got into a bit of handbags, the Kelty man gesturing that an elbow had been used as things began to get a bit tasty. The ref finally located his yellow card just before the break, Mathew Stenson lucky to get away with just a booking after going over the top on McKirdy.
Kelty were keeping up the pressure, the Moors defence having to clear into touch on more than a couple of occasions. Kelty made the breakthrough on 37 minutes, Dodds picking up the ball in the centre and feeding Linton wide on the left who crossed for Russell to flick home a low header at the front post. The half-time lead was no more than the home side deserved having more than held their own against the full-time outfit. If anything, Solihull had looked a little disappointing, most of the big crowd expecting a bit more from the visitors than route one attacking and no-nonsense defending.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first, both midfield units letting the other know that they were there. McKirdy saw yellow for scything down Stenson as he cut through the Kelty defence. The resulting free-kick was in a dangerous area, but was deflected behind for a corner. Dodds and Williams squared up to each other in the middle of the park a couple of times and Rodgers flashed them both a yellow, even though it looked like Williams had thrown a punch. The ref then got himself a bit mixed up and showed Carter a red card for a “second” yellow, before realising he hadn’t already booked the Moors man.
Moors began to look more dangerous as the half went on, getting forward quickly and pinning the home defence back into their own box. MacKenzie still looked comfortable, pulling out a couple of routine saves, but the pressure was starting to build. Kelty still looked the more dangerous side when they got the ball down, but Moors were doing their best to avoid getting dragged into playing football.
The visitors were winning the aerial battle, and it wasn’t a great surprise when they got the equaliser on 72 minutes. MacKenzie got down at his front post to stop the shot from the angle, but the loose ball fell to Stenson who stuck it away from 6 yards out. It came after a good spell from the visitors and a nervous couple of minutes followed for Kelty as Solihull pushed forward to keep the pressure on.
But this Kelty side has plenty of character, and it wasn’t long before they were turning the screw at the other end, Reilly’s through ball setting up Russell whose shot from the angle just slipped past the post. The home side kept pressing but Gudger was a rock at the back for Solihull, taking care of everything that came his way and doing a decent job of keeping Austin quiet.
Despite half chances at both ends, the 90 minutes finished all-square and the tie went straight to penalties.
Moors went first and both sides scored their first spot kick. Moors scored their second before Russell saw his saved. Moors scored again, then Linton smacked the post with number three for Kelty. With a 3-1 advantage, Moors just had to hold their nerve to make it to the next round, and did it with their fourth kick to win 4-2. The players and backroom staff headed over to celebrate with the travelling fans, but deep down everyone must have known they’d been tad fortunate to get their name into the hat after a cracking game and a fine performance from Kelty.
Ref Watch: Robert Rogers tried his best to let the game breathe but had his work cut out with such physical side and could have been stronger at times. He never really let it get away from him though, but maybe should have got the yellow card out a little sooner. Perhaps even a red. Almost made a howler with an accidental red card, but realised his mistake in time.
Supporters Man of the Match: Ben MacKenzie hasn’t had an awful lot to do since taking over the Kelty number 1 jersey and although this was his toughest test so far, he came through with flying colours with some crucial saves at important times. A little unlucky with the equaliser and no real chance with four very good penalties.
See all the match photos HERE.