Kelty Hearts 0-0 Montrose
Scottish Cup 3rd Round
New Central Park, Kelty
A battling Kelty performance was enough to hold Montrose to a nil-nil draw to earn a 3rd round replay at New Central Park. Kevin Thomson’s side had a tough task against higher league opposition but did enough to show that they can still cause an upset at Links Park in a week’s time.
Kelty were without Aberdeen loan duo Connor Barron and Kieran Ngwenya, the pair left out at the request of their parent club, so Thomson went with Darren Jamieson in goal and a back-four of Ross Philp, Danny Finlayson, Dougie Hill and Jordon Forster. Kallum Higginbotham dropped into midfield alongside Andy Black and skipper Michael Tidser, with Joe Cardle, Alfredo Agyeman and Nathan Austin in an attacking looking front three. In the other dug-out, Stewart Petrie went with Aaron Lennox in goal, Cammy Ballantyne, Andrew Steeves, Kerr Waddle and Aidan Quinn at the back. Mark Whatley, Terry Masson, Paul Watson and Craig Johnston in midfield, with Lewis Milne and Blair Lyons up top.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks, Masson testing the keeper in the very first minute, but DJ was up to the task with a cracking double save to deny the Gable Enders an early lead. There was an early stoppage too, when Andy Black needed treatment for a head-knock – the tough wee midfielder was soon back on his feet but played the reast of the game with a bandage round his head. That encounter kinda set the tone for the rest of the match, which had a real physical edge to it throughout. Kelty were maybe a little but slow to adapt to that style of play and looked like they were getting pushed around a bit in the early part of the game.
Ballantyne was next to test DJ, but again he was up to it, although it was starting to look a bit ominous for Kelty. Johnson was keeping the home side pinned back with his powerful running and Lyons looked a threat – when he managed to stay on his feet. Kelty held their breath when Steeves went down in the box, but the ref was having none of it and flashed him a yellow card.
By the time the half hour ticked round, Kelty had weathered the storm and were starting play their way into the game. Ross Philp set up Joe Cardle, who burst through the middle and had a go, but Lennox got a hand to it and turned it round the post into the side netting. That obviously gave the home side a bit of belief and they enjoyed a decent spell towards the end of the half. Austin found a bit of space through the centre but didn’t connect properly and hit his shot straight at Lennox. Then Tidser fire a free-kick in from wide left, but there were no takers as it flashed across the face and out for a goal kick.
There was a blow for Kelty when they lost Higginbotham just before the break, Robbie McNab coming on in his place. It almost got even worse on the stroke of half-time, Paul Watson finding himself with acres of space on the edge of the box, but he shot wide and let Kelty off the hook.
The physical battle continued into the second half and Andy Black seemed to be relishing it. Him and Mark Whatley squared up in the middle of the park and few others got involved, but the ref calmed everything down with just a quiet word.
Montrose were starting to get more and more possession, but the Kelty defence were sticking to the task – Forster as dominant as ever in the air and Finlayson looking composed in the left back slot. The Fifers were having to soak up a fair bit of pressure, but always looked dangerous on the break – Philp always the willing runner bringing it out from the back and giving the defence a breather. Rossco and Alfie combined to tee up Cardle for the best chance of the match, but for once, JoJo couldn’t find the target and fired his shot high over the bar.
Cardle then released Agyeman to sprint down the right with the just keeper to beat, but Lennox saved well with his feet to keep the score level. Montrose continued to pile of the pressure, looking to avoid a replay in the dying minutes, but DJ was on his toes again, diving to his left to deny sub Antoniazzi who couldn’t believe he stopped it.
There was another positive for Kelty fans in the dying minutes when Jamie Barjonas came on as a late sub, his first time back in the side since breaking his wrist at the end of October.
And so these two will have to do it all over again at Links Park next Saturday. It was backs-to-wall stuff at times for Kelty, but with their fourth clean sheet on the trot, a second bite at the cherry was well deserved. It’s the first time since the League Cup tie against Dundee United back in July that Thomson’s side haven’t scored and although it will be tough up in Angus, the League 2 leaders can go into the game with plenty of confidence.
Man of the Match: Jamieson, Tidser, Forster, Finalyson and Philp all deserve a mention, but it was Andy Black who really stuck out. He’s had a good run in the side of late, but this was his best game in a Kelty shirt so far. Despite the head injury in the first couple of minutes, he epitomised the battling spirit of the team, snapping into tackles, winning the ball, and putting out fires all over the park.
See the full match gallery HERE