Kelty Hearts 4-0 Whitehill Welfare (aet)
Football Nations Cup Round 2
New Central Park, Kelty
Kelty needed extra-time to secure their place in the next round of the Football Nations Cup against a battling Whitehill Welfare side at New Central Park. After a missed penalty in a goalless 90 minutes, the Fifers finally found their scoring touch deep into the extra period, a Ciaren Chalmers double and goals from Stuart Cargill & Ian Nimmo taking the home side through.
Thanks to injuries and suspensions, there was an unfamiliar look to the Kelty starting line-up, with a debut for new signing Finn Graham and Kier MacAulay making his first home start since moving up from the 20s side. Up top there was a lone-striker role for Stuart Cargill, hoping to celebrate his 30th birthday with another goal that would take him a step closer to club's all-time scoring record.
Welfare had lost heavily when the sides met in the league at Ferguson Park back in July and were clearly determine not to capitulate so easily this time around. Early in the game, they had a much more robust look about them, winning the key challenges in midfield and pressing quickly all over the park. It took Kelty a good 20 minutes to carve out a clear cut opportunity, Cargill with an inventive flick which Jardine did well to block.
Kelty's best chance of joy looked like coming down the right, Husband and Chalmers linking up well with the always busy Elliot Ford. It was Ford who handed Kelty a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot, his pace just too much for Faulds, who could only clip him from behind. Stephen Husband is usually clinical from the spot but on this occasion his shot was too close to Jardine, who got enough on it to keep it out. Husband and Cargill both went for the rebound, but got in each others way and neither could force it over the line.
Kelty were beginning to look a bit more like themselves though - Graham & Nimmo starting to get gain the upper hand in midfield. MacAulay's deep cross beat the Welfare defence but Cargill & Chalmers got mixed up at the back post and the chance was gone.
Chalmers and MacKenzie both had chances before the interval as Kelty found another gear, but Welfare held on thanks to a couple of decent stops from Jardine
Cargill wasn't having much joy up front on his own and his frustration was starting to show. Gaffer Barry Ferguson didn't leave it too long into the second half to make the change - MacKenzie making way for Willis Hare to slot in alongside and provide some support to Cargill. Kelty were enjoying plenty of possession and the chances kept coming, but the visiting defence were working hard and keeper Jardine was in fine form. Chalmers, Cargill and Hare all went close, and centre-backs Errol Douglas & Murray Carstairs both tried their luck but Kelty just couldn't convert. Had any one of those chances gone in, it could well have opened the flood gates, but the visitors work rate was enough to keep their clean-sheet in tact.
Welfare were restricted to chances on the counter attack, and they managed to create some decent openings. But for all their hard graft in the middle of the park, whenever they got into the final third they had the look of a team that hasn't won since September, failing time and again to test Scott Christie. Both sides were guilty of squandering chances though and it was no great surprise that the ninety minutes ended goalless.
As the tie moved into extra time, there was a vibe around the ground that one goal would probably be enough. Chalmers finally made the breakthrough near the end of the first period, heading home from close range to give the hosts the lead. Welfare's resistance was finally broken and having waited almost two hours for the first goal, like the proverbial No.6 bus, Chalmers popped up just after the break to score number two with another header, for his fifth goal in six games.
The dam was well and truly burst now, and birthday boy Cargill scored number three right-footed past Jardine, to take him within two goals of equalling the club record.
Ian Nimmo rounded off the scoring in the dying seconds to make it 4-0 to Kelty and book their place in the draw.
Sometimes in football, the scoreline doesn't tell the whole story of the game, and Welfare will feel a little unlucky to be on the wrong end of a 4-nil, having put a real shift in for most of the game. While it wasn't a vintage performance from Kelty, they did have enough chances to win the game comfortably in normal time and on balance they deserve their place in the next round.
Supporters Man Of The Match: Finn Graham enjoyed an impressive debut, buzzing around over the park, winning tackles and closing people down. Great distribution to bring his team-mates into the game and rarely losing possession in a hectic midfield battle.
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