Stirling unable to tame high-flying Kelty

University of Stirling 1 – 4 Kelty Hearts
Tuesday 1 October, Lowland League

By Lewis Fraser

A superb first-half performance from the University of Stirling was not enough to tame free-scoring Kelty Hearts – with the Fifers running out 4-1 winners.

Managed by Barry Ferguson, title contenders Kelty – who, prior to Tuesday’s match, had scored 43 goals in just eight games – fielded a strong side, including several players who have competed at the top level in Scotland.

However, under the floodlights at Forthbank, it was the students  who started the brightest. Within the first minute, Stirling were through on goal, and although striker Jason Jarvis’s effort was well wide of target, it was a sign that the home side would be no pushovers.

Indeed, it was Stirling who took the lead on 18 minutes when Calum Heath was brought down in the box. It was Kieran Hall who stepped up and expertly dispatched the spot kick straight down the middle of the goal to put Stirling ahead.

Playing with just one striker, Kelty looked to Nathan Austin – who has notched up 17 goals this season – to bring them back on level terms, but he couldn’t get a shot on target. The defensive partnership of Angus Mailer and Ben Quigley stood firm and their constant hard work and battling frustrated the former Inverness striker.

Stirling looked in control for the majority of the first period, and manager Chris Geddes would have been delighted with his side’s determination to go in a goal up at the break.

Opener: Kieran Hall put the University one up against Kelty Hearts.

Kelty impressed after half-time – they were quicker on the ball and looked to play a slick passing game around the home side. Stephen Husband, in particular, was instrumental in the middle of the park in keeping uni under pressure in the early stages of the half.

On 55 minutes, Kelty’s persistence paid off when a loose ball found its way to Nathan Austin only a few yards out from goal, and his low shot into the far corner left Kevin Walker with no chance.

Just two minutes later, Kelty took the lead through a wonder goal from Thomas Reilly – hitting the top left corner of the net with a superb volley from 30 yards out.

With the healthy away crowd in fine voice, Stirling struggled to regain the composure that saw them control the first half. Kelty kept their foot firmly to the pedal and they wrapped up the three points on 61 minutes.

Ross Philp was given too much time on the edge of the box, and the midfielder let fly a brilliant half volley into the top right corner. In less than ten minutes, the title contenders had turned a deficit into a commanding two-goal lead.

Stirling’s sorrows were compounded on 80 minutes when James Berry was sent off for two  successive bookings: the first for simulation and the second for his reaction.

Philp sealed the three points in stoppage time, as he bagged his second of the night from close range.

Despite the result, Stirling will feel that they were competitive for large parts of the game. However, it was a dominant seven-minute spell of the game that was the difference for clinical Kelty.

University of Stirling will welcome Dalbeattie Star to Forthbank on Saturday, where they will look to get back to winning ways.

University of Stirling: Walker, Burrows, Mailer (c) , Quigley, Downie, Cowley (Doan, 67’), Heath (McMaster, 88’), Jarvis, Berry, Brown, Hall (Penker, 85’)
Goals: Hall (18’)

Kelty Hearts: Mackenzie, Cennerazzo, Linton, Carstairs (c), Mendy, Ashe, Husband, Reilly, Austin, Philp, Russell (Dodd, 56’)
Goals: Austin (55’), Reilly (57’), Philp (61’, 90+2’)

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