Kelty Hearts 6-1 Whitehill Welfare
GeoSonic Lowland League
New Central Park, Kelty
A sparkling Ross Mutch performance helped Kelty to a convincing win over Whitehill at New Central Park. The teenager was too hot for Welfare to handle, with a goal and two assists in the space of 10 minutes to set the home side on the way to their fifth win on the bounce. A mid-season dip saw the league's newcomers slip to third spot, but they showed that they have finally re-captured their early season form with a composed display that keeps them in the hunt.
After four consecutive clean sheets the Kelty back five virtually picks itself at the moment: Scott Christie in goal, Murray Carstairs & Errol Douglas in the middle, Garry Leighton on the right and Scott McBride on the left. Simples.
Gaffer Barry Ferguson has played tunes with the formation during his time in charge, and looks like he's made a few more subtle changes to the shape.
The midfield looked more like 4-3-3 at times, Shaun Greig, Chris Dodds and Stephen Husband in the middle, with Brian Ritchie, Ross Mutch and Stuart Cargill in a fluid looking front line.
Whitehill actually started well, taking the game to their hosts in the hope of catching them cold and Christie had to be on his toes early doors to stop the visitors going in front. Kelty's reaction was swift though, Mutch with a run and shot that was a sign of things to come.
Kelty began to creep into the game, Husband testing the visiting defence with two corners in quick succession. They had a shout for a penalty turned down in the 13th minute when Dodds went down in the box as the pressure began to build. Within a minute Kelty took the lead, Mutch again running at the defence before slipping it through to Brian Ritchie, who clipped it over the on-rushing keeper with a cool finish.
Mutch was finding plenty of joy down right hand side, tormenting Hamilton & Bain with his pace and made it 2-nil in the 21st minute, skinning Hamilton and slipping the ball past Grant into the far corner.
McBride and Wright got into a bit of a wrestling match and referee Dummond had to step in to calm things down. From the resulting free-kick, Husband's pin-point delivery found Murray Carstairs, who made it 3-0 with 25 minutes gone. 60 seconds later it was four, Mutch doing the damage once again, beating Bain and cutting inside before squaring for Stuart Cargill to side-foot home from the edge of the area.
It was a devastating 12 minute spell from the Fifer's, reminiscent of the swagger they played with in the early part of the season and a sure sign that they have found top gear again.
Welfare gaffer Ian Little had clearly identified Mutch as the danger man in his half-time talk, and immediately after the break Bain went into the referees book for clattering him as he flew down the wing.
The pace slowed a little after the break as Kelty took the foot of the gas a little. If anything, they maybe sat-off a little bit too much which encouraged the visitors to press a bit a harder. Welfare started the second half well, as they had done the first, as they went in search of a way back into the game. It came just after the hour mark, Kevin Keane's corner beating everyone and dropping in at the back post to make it 4-1 and give Welfare a lifeline.
It was snatched away from them within two minutes though, Mutch cutting the defence to shreds yet again, setting up Chris Dodds, who fired home number five from the D.
Mutch was coming in for a bit of treatment as Welfare looked for a way to neutralise the threat, and a bit of bad temper began to creep into the game. There were a couple of flashpoints, but they were nothing more than handbags at dawn and the ref did well to keep anything from escalating into a full scale rammy.
Murray Carstairs rounded out the scoring with his second of the game, slamming home another Husband cross in the 85th minute to take his tally to 8 for the season. Kelty made some late changes; Sean O'Neil, Kyle Wilson and Ciaren Chalmers all getting a brief appearance as they get ready for first team football again.
The win is more evidence of Kelty's return to form, and keeps them on the crest of the wave for the season run in. Ferguson's men remain third in the table, three points behind BSC Glasgow and 11 behind leaders East Kilbride, who both won. Kilbie look like they could be out of sight, but with the two sides still to meet, including a visit to new Central Park on the final day of the season, there could yet a twist in the tale.
With the cup taking place, Kelty now have a week off, before the tricky away trip to Spartans for the Friday night game in two weeks time. As for Welfare, the defeat leaves them rooted to the foot of the table, 5 points behind Dalbeattie and 12 adrift of Gretna, who they face in a fortnight.
Man of The Match: Despite another classy performance from Husband, and a double for Carstairs, this decision was a no-brainer. Ross Mutch stuck out a mile, creating three and scoring one himself, and the defence just could not cope with his pace an trickery.
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