Saturday 10 December 2016, 13.30, Olivebank

An East Superleague clash between Musselburgh Athletic and Kelty Hearts.

A third viewing of Musselburgh this season, but the first time in a competitive game.  It’s our first look at Kelty this season.

Kelty Hearts were formed in 1975 and after initially working their way up the amateur leagues in Fife, they played a friendly against local junior side Halbeath Juniors in 1979, who were about to play in the Junior Cup Quarter Final.  Halbeath signed five of Kelty’s players (who beat them 3-1) at the end of the season, which led to the management team resigning and other players leaving the club.

A new committee decided it was time to turn Junior the following season and after a lot of hard work and manager Jim Leishman (yes that one) the team got through their first season in the Juniors.  Leishman didn’t stay long, but the team went from strength to strength in the Fife Leagues.

They moved to the East Region along with the other Fife junior clubs in 2002 and in 2006/07 they were promoted to the East Superleague.

They have twice made it to the Junior Cup Final in their short history, in 1999 and 2007, but they have lost in both. In 2014-15, they surprised many by running off with the East Superleague title for the first time.  They showed that was no fluke by finishing second last season and have their eyes on the title again this season.

Musselburgh went into the game in ninth place, while Kelty were top, having won all but one of their sixteen league games so far (and that was a draw).

Kelty lined-up with the ultimate nightmare for commentators, two players called Neil McCabe in their starting eleven. They differentiate between them by calling their number 2 “Cabey” and number 11 “Nelly”.  That’s good enough for me.

There were around 190 in attendance.

The opening exchanges all took place around the middle of the park as both teams tried to feel their way into the match.  The first effort at goal was a long range effort from Musselburgh by Cherrie, but it was of little trouble to Marley in the Kelty goal.

A cross from O’Kane in 8 minutes went over Marley, but went just wide of the Kelty goal.

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A lobbed ball forward by the home side in 15 minutes saw Spowart with a chance, but he didn’t connect properly and the flag was up anyway.

In 18 minutes, a Kelty throw into the box was cleared to the edge of the box where Greig half volleyed goalwards, but it was over the bar.

Kelty’s Cabey McCabe received the game’s first booking in 19 minutes for obstruction.  A yellow card seemed a bit harsh.

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Musselburgh came forward in 26 minutes and Thomson found Spowart on the right.  He reached the by-line and cut the ball back across the six-yard box for the waiting Thomson, but Cabey McCabe made a great tackle to stop the home side taking the lead.

A minute later, Spowart lashed a first-time effort over the bar as Musselburgh continued to match up to the league leaders before Lynch took a free kick 22 yards out in 29 minutes which he hit well, but went wide of the post.

Musselburgh broke forward quickly in 32 minutes with Lynch finding Davis on the left.  He played the ball to Ralton whose shot across goal went wide of the far post.

In 33 minutes, Thomson’s corner for Kelty was cleared to the right hand side by Lynch’s header and Cabey McCabe met it on the half volley and hit a magnificent strike into the far corner to give Kelty the lead.  He showed fantastic control in the strike.

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Cargill got the ball on the corner of the Burgh box in 36 minutes after a goal kick had been headed on by Ritchie and Renton did well to turn the ball behind with his feet.

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Some good build up play by the home side in 39 minutes ended with Spowart shooting narrowly wide from the edge of the box.

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Cabey McCabe went down injured in 41 minutes after coming off worst in a 50-50 challenge after Nelly McCabe had been short with a pass to him.

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Players on both sides were getting tetchy with a number of late tackles happening.

Cargill managed to ride an attempt to trip him up in 44 minutes as he made progress towards the Burgh goal, but his shot from outside the box was too high.

In injury time, Kelty were given a throw which should have been given the other way and Cargill got to the by-line where his cross came off the top of the bar.

Kelty led at half time and their goal had come a bit against the run of play and Musselburgh certainly looked capable of getting back into the game in the second half.

Five minutes into the second 45, Dunn’s cross into the Kelty box was met by the head of Ralton, but it drifted wide.

Thomson took a free kick for Kelty in 52 minutes from the left on the half way line.  It found the head of Ritchie, but Renton got down low to push the ball wide.

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Courts tried a curling effort at the Burgh goal from the left after he received a throw in in 53 minutes which looked close, but went over.

A Musselburgh free kick in 55 minutes was headed away by Ritchie but came to Davis just outside the box.  He attempted a volley and almost missed the ball completely, but it bounced past two defenders and he ran onto it and half volleyed the ball into the corner of the net to bring the scores level.

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Husband took a Kelty free kick from the corner of the box in 60 minutes and saw his effort come back off the bar.

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In 66 minutes, Murphy received a yellow card for a foul on Dalziel, although he got at least some of the ball in his challenge.  Husband took the free kick from around 22 yards out and it hit the wall.  The ball spun into the box and found the feet of Ritchie who watched in agony as his effort hit the base of the post.

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Burgh’s O’Kane picked up an injury in 69 minutes but managed to continue after treatment.

A cross into the Kelty box in 73 minutes by Spowart was just out of reach of King in the middle as both sides chased a winner.

Spowart got the ball in the Kelty box in 75 minutes and O’Neil did well to take the ball off him and clear.

Ralton was the next Burgh player to need treatment but he soon limped back on.

With 77 minutes gone, Moore took a shot at the Burgh goal, but it was just too high.

Renton saved an effort on his goal in 82 minutes from Husband, but Greig followed up to win the ball on the edge of the box and Moore latched onto the ball and took it round the keeper and put it into the empty net to put Kelty back in front.  Musselburgh claimed that Greig had used a high boot to win the ball and they may have had a case, but the goal stood.

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In the aftermath of the goal, the referee showed someone on the Kelty bench a yellow card.

With 3 minutes left Dunn crossed to the back post as Burgh tried to get a late equaliser.  Murphy headed back across goal and King was just unable to get there as the ball trickled wide.

In the final minute Carstairs picked up a yellow card and from the resultant free kick on the right, Kelty headed the ball behind for a corner which was cleared.

Renton joined him in the book for pushing over Moore who was preventing the Burgh keeper from taking a free kick.

A narrow win for Kelty to keep the unbeaten run going.  They weren’t at their best but they do say it’s the sign of a good team that wins when not playing well.  Musselburgh would be disappointed not to take anything from a game where they matched their opponents.

Cherrie and Dunn had decent games for Burgh and best for Kelty were O’Neil and Cabey McCabe.

A small boy was hit in the face with the ball in the second half in what looked like a sore one.  A home official went and got him a Musselburgh scarf to try and numb the pain.  I hope there was no lasting damage. (From the ball, not the scarf.)

Full time: Musselburgh Athletic 1 Kelty Hearts 2

Admission: £6

Musselburgh Athletic: 1 Kieron Renton, 2 John McManus, 4 David Dunn, 6 Declan O’Kane, 7 Sean Murphy, 8 Gary Cherrie, 3 Matty Lynch, 11 Jed Davis, 15 Conor Thomson (King 71), 9 Connor Spowart, 17 Ewan Ralton.  Subs: 19 Calvin Shand, 10 Mathu King, 18 David McKenzie.

Kelty Hearts: 1 Kyle Marley, 2 Neil ‘Cabey’ McCabe, 3 Conrad Courts (Carstairs 84), 4 Sean O’Neil, 5 Garry Leighton, 6 Stephen Husband, 7 Craig Thomson, 8 Sean Greig, 9 Brian Ritchie, 10 Stuart Cargill (Moore 64), 11 Neil ‘Nelly’ McCabe (Dalziel 64).  Subs:  12 Jason Penman, 13 Kyle Allison, 15 Jordan Moore, 16 Scott Dalziel, 14 Murray Carstairs.

Referee: Mike Taylor

Programme: Team sheet free with admission.

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