Kelty Hearts v Stirling Uni EOS
EOS Qualifying League
Saturday 5th August
Kelty went into the final match of Group C of the 2017/18 East of Scotland Qualifying League knowing that a draw would be enough to ensure the club went into the East of Scotland League Cup in the position of group winners and thus would book a home quarter final tie against the runners up in Group D.
Right from kick off however Kelty went looking for the win and had their first chance after only two minutes when good link up play between Philp and Dalziel saw the latter lay the ball into the path of Ritchie breaking into the Stirling box, MacDonald in the visiting box came to block the run but Ritchie managed to poke the ball past the Stirling keeper to Philp, however his first time effort crashed back off the crossbar. In the meantime Ritchie and MacDonald had accidentally collided which saw the goalkeeper requiring to be replaced and with Stirling having no back up keeper on the bench it fell to midfielder Tony McGuire to take his place between the sticks. Kelty would also lose the services of Ritchie later on in the half as he too felt the after effects of the collision.
If the home side thought they were therefore in for an easy afternoon with a non-keeper in goals then McGuire was to make them think again with a string of great blocks and fantastic saves that would put many actual goalkeepers to shame.
Dalziel and Douglas both saw efforts saved before Ritchie rattled the post with a header from a Husband free kick and McGuire came to Stirling’s rescue again when he blocked a low Douglas effort after 28 minutes. Then the visitors were perhaps fortunate to escape the award of a penalty when a Husband ball into the box was collected by Douglas who turned Whitefield and appeared to be held back by the Stirling centre half when clear on goal, unfortunately for the home side the referee’s view was blocked by other players and play was allowed to continue.
Dalziel then had an effort blocked by the defence and then saved by McGuire as Kelty went into the break dominating possession, territory and shots on target but without making the breakthrough their play deserved.
McCabe had replaced Ritchie with 5 to go in the first 45 minutes and he was to have Kelty’s first effort of the second half when again McGuire pulled off a good save to keep the scores level.
The home support were left shaking their heads after 56 minutes when Douglas broke free into the Stirling box and looked to have placed his low shot perfectly into the bottom corner but again McGuire got down to make a fingertip stop to turn the ball away for a corner.
Kelty did have the ball in the net after 57 minutes when a cross from the left by Philp into the centre of the Stirling goal was palmed out by McGuire and it hit the arm of Dalziel before bouncing into the back of the net. The strict letter of the Laws of the Game will say that the handball was not deliberate as Dalziel was so close to the action that he had no way of avoiding the contact, and the goal should have stood, but it would have been very harsh on Stirling to have went behind that way.
McGuire then saved from a trademark Husband free kick, and then denied the Kelty number 6 moments later with a great save from Husband’s low drive as Kelty camped in the Stirling half of the pitch.
The home side appealed for a goal after 60 minutes when Dalziel got on the end of a Husband cross to power a header goalwards with McGuire collected on the goal line. The home attack felt that McGuire had carried the ball across the line in making the catch but with the referee not having the benefit of goal line technology play continued.
It was then the turn of Douglas, McCabe and Husband to be denied by Stirling’s outstanding stand-in keeper before Hearts finally got the lead their dominance deserved after they were awarded a free kick outside the box on the 69th minute mark following a foul on Carstairs.
Scott-Taylor MacKenzie stepped up to bend the ball over the wall and though his effort was blocked by McGuire the rebound was met by Dalziel with a powerful header to open the scoring.
The home side made a couple of changes with Campbell replacing Dalziel and Nimmo coming on for Philp then Stirling had their one and only attack of the game when the ball was worked up the left hand side of the visiting attack and crossed into Borcz in the middle, his first time effort was blocked by Christie and the ball was cleared.
Kelty resumed their relentless assault on the visiting goal with McGuire again and again denying goals with saves from Campbell, Douglas and Husband before he was finally beaten for a second time after 78 minutes.
A bursting run down the left by skipper Shaun Greig allowed him to move the ball to the left of the Stirling box and with the defence stretched he played the ball back to MacKenzie who delivered a pinpoint cross to the head of Campbell and the Kelty sub’s header was perfectly placed into the top corner.
Campbell claimed his second to wrap up the scoring with four minutes left to play when a long ball forward by Christie was flicked on by Douglas and Campbell outpaced Miller to race into the Stirling box, round McGuire and roll the ball into the back of the net.
It was a solid win for Kelty who, as Group C winners will now face Preston Athletic at New Central Park in the East of Scotland League Cup quarter final. With over 20 shots on target Kelty could have scored more than the three they got but will be happy with the knowledge that creating so many chances in a game is great football and that they won’t face the sublime and unexpected talents of Tony McGuire in goal every week! For the Stirling midfielder/goalkeeper it was a game he will no doubt remember for a long time to come.
Attention now turns to next week’s massive Scottish Cup Qualifying First Round tie when East of Scotland League rivals Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale are the visitors to New Central Park. Kick off is at 2.30pm.
MATCH REPORT BY - EWAN DOW