Kelty prove too strong for luckless Shipyard.
The fine weather ensured a good crowd turned up for the first ever Fife derby in the East of Scotland League as newcomers Kelty Hearts visited Recreation Park. It was also NonLeagueDay2017 which brought a few more visitors to the ground. The Shipyard were missing Tam Graham and new signing Robbie Gibson from last week but Callum McAleavey returned after suspension.
Unsurprisingly Kelty were strong favourites to win the match and the Shippy’s task got a whole lot harder before a ball was kicked when the influential Brian Breen had to pull out in the warm up due to injury. Owen Ferry took his place in the starting eleven. The Shipyard’s injury woes were compounded even further when centre back Craig Anderson limped off with the match barely ten minutes old. Marc Black replaced Anderson in the defence. The visitors had plenty of the ball in the early stages but did not create much in the way of chances while at the other end Kelty keeper Scott Christie held Ferry’s cross at the near post and a free-kick from distance went just wide of his post. A Scott Powrie tackle denied Kelty a clear opening and in the 24th minute Neil McCabe hit the outside of the post with Shippy keeper Sean Malpas struggling. McCabe went close again as he shot over from a decent position as Kelty started to exert a bit of pressure, however, this was tempered by frustration creeping in as the offside flag continually stopped them in their tracks. Malpas produced a terrific save in the 41st minute to claw away a headed effort from a free-kick and three minutes later he held a shot from Scott Dalziel. No doubt that at the interval, the goalless score line would have surprised many but the Shippy players stuck to their task and were making their opponents work hard for opportunities.
Sam Glancy was not too far away with a curling shot from the edge of the box after showing good skill to beat his marker but it was Kelty who broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute through a fine finish from Dalziel. The ball fell to him at the edge of the box after Malpas did well to block a shot from Errol Douglas and Dalziel showed great composure to send a left footed cushioned volley into the net. Any hope the Shippy had of getting back into the match all but disappeared shortly afterwards when claims for a penalty were waived away when Sandy Strang appeared to be impeded as he challenged for a high ball in the box. To compound matters even further Glancy was shown a harsh second yellow card for a challenge when the loose ball broke at the edge of the area. The ten men of the Shipyard were now up against it and managed to keep the visitors at bay until the 72nd minute. Powrie misjudged a cross into the box and McCabe was able to turn and shoot with his strike going in off the post. Kelty were awarded a penalty six minutes later when sub Jordan Galloway fouled Dalziel just inside the area, however, Malpas dived low to his left to keep out Dalziel’s spot kick. The Shippy defended manfully in the closing stages though tiredness was taking its toll on them and Kelty struck twice in the last three minutes of normal time as firstly, Eliot Ford got on the end of a cross field pass, stepped inside his man and his shot trundle in off the post after appearing to wrong foot Malpas. Then sub Archie Campbell scored from around ten yards after stepping inside his man though his strike partner, who supplied the pass, looked well offside in the build-up.
Speaking after the match Grant was not too downbeat given the result when he said “Today was always going to be a difficult fixture for us and losing Brian Breen to injury in the warm up and defender Craig Anderson within 10 minutes of the game starting certainly didn’t help our cause, however, I really thought the boys worked there socks off and gave everything they had”. He added to that by saying “There no denying Tam has an excellent squad at his disposal at Kelty and you only need to look at their bench today to see the quality he can turn to. We always knew it was going to be a challenge but I really think our boys did well and stuck to the jobs we asked of them. Reflecting on what he thought was a defining moment in the match Grant went on “In limiting Kelty to only half chances, we were always in the game and even when we went 1-0 down I felt we had a chance of getting back into the game. The Frustrating thing for me was for a fourth game in a row we went down to ten men. Sam’s first booking was stupid, which I told him so afterwards, but the second booking in my opinion was really soft and killed any hope we had of getting back into the game. Eventually we tired and Kelty’s quality shone through scoring three late goals. Despite the score line we can take a lot of credit out the game and with each week that passes I can see progress and I said all along it’s going to take time but so far, since taking charge, I’m delighted with the attitude and application from all the players.
Burntisland Shipyard: S. Malpas, S. Powrie (B. Saunders), P. Bell, C. McAleavey, C. Anderson (M. Black), S. Strang, R. Kinnaird (J. Galloway), S. Glancy, B. Hamilton, C. McAulay, O. Ferry. Unused Subs: K. Ford, S. Cusick, C. Richardson.
Kelty Hearts: S. Christie, E. Ford, C. Courts, S. O’Neil, M. Carstairs, S. Taylor-McKenzie, S. Husband (S. Cargill), S. Greig, S. Dalziel, E. Douglas (A. Campbell) N. McCabe (J. Sheerin).
Referee: A. Hogg.