Kelty Hearts 5-0 Edusport Academy
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty striker Stuart Cargill hit a hat-trick to become the club's all-time leading scorer and keep his side in the title race. The Fifers have struggled to re-capture their early season form since Barry Ferguson took charge, but finally found top gear to blow away the visitors at New Central Park. Errol Douglas and Chris Dodds also got on the scoresheet as Kelty racked up their biggest win for more than four months.
Keeper Scott Christie recovered from the hip knock that kept him on the sidelines last week and Kier MacAulay returned in the left back slot.
With Elliot Ford still absent, Garry Leighton retained the right back spot, with Errol Douglas and Murray Carstairs in the centre of defence.
Scott McBride stepped forward into the left side of a four-man midfield, alongside Stephen Husband, Chris Dodds and captain Shaun Greig with an unchanged strike-force of Cargill and Brian Ritchie up top.
Cargill has been edging towards the record all season long and drew level with Tommy Condie's 20 year old milestone of 162 goals two weeks ago. He nearly took the record outright with an early chance, hitting the bar with a header in the fifth minute as the hosts were quick out the blocks. Academy survived that early scare, but only lasted until the 18th minute before they did fall behind. Stephen Husband's corner only half-dealt with in the first instance, but the defence failed to clear properly and the loose ball fell to Errol Douglas who slammed home through a ruck of bodies for only his second goal of the season.
Edusport have suffered a slump in form of late and are without a win in six games, but they got their sleeves rolled up to try to get back into the game. Their best chance looked like coming from a set piece, a free kick and a couple of corners had Christie on his toes but failed to causing any real danger. Kelty were creating openings too; Husband had a go and Douglas nearly got on the end of another corner, but the visiting defence were working hard to keep the Fifers at bay.
They held firm until the 32nd minute before the Cargill show finally kicked off. The striker reacted quickest to the forward pass, beat the offside trap and showed trialist Pat Scullion a clean pair of heels. New Central Park held its breath as he burst clear, knowing exactly what was at stake. One-on-one with the keeper, Stuart Cargill rarely misses and he duly tucked away his shot low into the corner before spinning away to celebrate with his team mates. Goal number 163 in a Kelty shirt puts him out in front as the club's all-time leading goalscorer.
With that out of the way, he only had to wait 5 minutes for number 164. Finding himself in acres of space on the left angle of the box and spotting Matt Kerr off his line, he flicked a sweet right-footed lob over the keepers head into the far corner of the net.
With the 3-nil half-time lead, the maroon machine was in cruise control and the game already looked beyond Edusport. Kelty have been guilty of squandering chances in recent games, letting teams off the hook much to everyone's frustration. Ferguson's half-time talk must have stressed the importance of putting this one to bed, because they picked up exactly where they'd left off before the break. Brian Ritchie thought he'd scored number four when the stabbed home the loose ball from Husband long-range drive, but the he was denied by the linesman's flag.
The momentum was with Kelty though, and number four did arrive in the 55th minute after Cargill and McBride combined to tee-up Chris Dodds, who stepped past his marker and rolled his shot into the net for his 4th goal since signing in December.
The chances were coming thick & fast for Kelty now. Ritchie almost grabbed the fifth as he slid in at the back post, but McMillan made the block and the Kelty number 10 took a sore one in the process. Scott McBride picked his was through the defence and made it to the bye-line. Kerr blocked his shot from the tight angle and when it fell back to McBride, he cut it back to the penalty spot where Cargill was waiting to stroke it home and complete his hat-trick.
With the game won, Kelty took Ritchie off as a precaution, replacing him with Ciaren Chalmers for the last half hour. The visitors made a couple of changes of their own, more an attempt at damage limitation than anything else. Ironically, at 5-nil down, they actually enjoyed their best spell with a decent period of pressure as they tried to salvage a bit of pride. Christie needed to pull out a couple of saves and Flynn struck the woodwork, but it was too little too late and they never really look like getting themselves back into the game.
So three valuable points keep Kelty third in the table, just two behind BSC but still 11 behind leaders East Kilbride. More importantly, it was the side's biggest win under Ferguson and with their second consecutive clean sheet, a sign that they are getting back to their best. It might be too late to catch EK, but with two games against the leaders still to come, they are certainly not out of it yet. Kelty are on the road next week with an away trip to Dalbeattie Star as they look to keep the form going.
As for Edusport, that makes it seven defeats on the bounce and although they should have enough points to keep them out of a relegation battle, that's the kind of run that's hard to break. It doesn't get any easier either, with second placed BSC the visitors to Galabank next week.
Man of the Match: There was no shortage of good performances for Kelty, Errol Douglas proving his worth at both ends of the pitch, Scott McBride showing his versatility and Stephen Husband pulling the strings in midfield. But the day belonged to Stuart Cargill - his hat-trick showcasing all of his talents: opportunism, pace and clinical finishing for the first; speed of thought, invention and a little bit of cheek for the second; and patience, precision and composure for the third. A perfect strikers performance to break the record.
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