Road to Hampden Blocked at the First Hurdle
Kelty Hearts - 0
Lothian Thistle Hutchinson Vale - 1
Scottish Cup Preliminary Round
New Central Park, Kelty
Entry to the William Hill Scottish Cup was one of the main factors in Kelty's decision to make the switch to the Senior game, but the road to Hampden can be long and painful, as they found out in this Preliminary Round Tie against East of Scotland League rivals Lothain Thistle Hutchinson Vale at New Central Park. In the first ever Scottish Cup tie to be played at Kelty, the home side finished with only nine men, before losing out to a 93rd minute winner.
It's a bit early in the season for cup cliches, but this was a typical cup tie, with both sides showing plenty of spirit, but the magic of the cup was ultimately in favour of LTHV. Both sides were on the attack from the first whistle, with Vale testing Christie in the Kelty goal right from kick-off, before the keeper's long ball gave Dalziel an opportunity that he couldn't quite get on the end of. Vale were quickly into their stride, knocking the ball about with confidence, while Kelty were restricted to long hopeful passes. Thistle's slick passing was causing the Hearts defence a few problems, but the final ball was missing.
Hearts were coming into the game as the half wore on, and started to cause a few problems of their own. The hosts lost Ritchie to a recurrence of his niggling injury, and when Campbell replaced him, they finally started to find their rhythm and carved out a couple of decent chances, but neither side could find the net.
There was plenty of bite in midfield, with Nimmo in particular on the receiving end of a couple of heavy challenges. But it was Carstairs who was the first name into the ref's notebook. Just before half time, the right back drove forward, but he pushed the ball a bit too far in front of himself and when he lunged to try and win it back, the ref produced the yellow.
Devlin was giving Kelty defence a hard time, and shortly after the re-start he broke forward on the left, and when Carstairs body checked him on the angle of the box, the ref produced a second yellow and the hosts were a man down.
Despite being a man short, Kelty were beginning to find their stride. Manager Courts withdrew Dalziel and introduced Douglas who gave them a bit more presence up front. Husband beat the Thistle off-side trap, but he carried the ball too far wide and his cross couldn't find the substitute.
Vale were still passing the ball well and looking good on the break, but chances were at a premium. Hearts best chances were coming from corners, with Husband and Mackenzie producing some fine deliveries and when O'Neil got on the end of one, Thistle keeper Swain did well to get his finger tips to it.
As the clock ticked into injury time, a replay looked on the cards, although both sides were still creating changes and looking to win the tie. But when a late challenge on Douglas went unpunished by the ref, Kenny Adamson took matters into his own hands, with a strong challenge of his own which earned him a straight red card.
Down to nine men, and still trying to organise themselves, Kelty conceded a late corner and when it was swung into the box Nhamburo, was on hand to head home from the six yard box to send his side through with the last touch of the ball.
So, a timely reminder for Kelty that the won't have things their own way this season. The celebrations from the LTHV players, bench and supporters was evidence that the newest senior team in the country are seen as a major scalp by the established sides. They gave as good as they got in this encounter, but will have to scrap for every point when league business finally gets underway. Maintaining discipline will also be a factor, as they come up against new players, teams and referees.