Kelty Hearts 2 – 0 University of Stirling (South Challenge Cup)
Saturday 9 November, 2019 / New Central Park
By Lewis Fraser
The University of Stirling were defeated in the South Challenge Cup on Saturday after losing two late goals to Kelty Hearts.
Despite the 2-0 loss at New Central Park in Fife, Stirling coach Chris Geddes was pleased with the efforts of his side.
He said: “I thought our shape and the way we played was very good; we had a couple opportunities and we could have maybe nicked it.
“Although we lost, I felt it was a positive performance from the boys.”
The University went into the game as underdogs, and a heavily depleted side only added to the difficulty of the tie. With seven first team players injured and two suspended – including captain Angus Mailer, Geddes was forced to name three under 20 players in the squad. This included Jamie Thompson, 17, who started at right back.
The University almost took the lead on 37 minutes when defender Matty Burrows latched on to a loose ball in the Kelty box – but his volley from 12 yards was just wide of Ben Mackenzie’s post.
But it was the home team that looked the most dangerous, with Burrows and Stirling goalkeeper Kevin Walker working hard to block shots from the opposition.
Kelty were awarded a penalty eight minutes into the second half after Nathan Austin went to ground just inside the Uni box. Dylan Easton stepped up to take it, but Walker was quick in getting down to his left to save it.
Minutes later, a shot from Kelty’s Chris Dodd beat Walker, only to ricochet off the post. The ball then bounced off the unwitting Walker and out for a corner.
Stirling had an excellent opportunity to take the lead on the hour mark when Jason Jarvis picked up a loose clearance from out-of-position Mackenzie – but the goalkeeper recovered to save the midfielder’s effort from 30 yards.
Despite having several ex-professionals in their ranks, it took until the 81st minute for Kelty to break the deadlock. Kevin Walker did well to save Nathan Austin’s initial shot, however, he couldn’t keep out Cammy Russell’s rebound from close range.
The Fifers – managed by former Rangers and Scotland captain Barry Ferguson – sealed their place in the next round five minutes later. As Stirling pushed for a late equaliser, Stephen Husband – Kelty’s man of the match – back heeled the ball into the path of Dylan Easton. The former St Johnstone midfielder got his shot away from the edge of the six yard box, and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Chris Geddes will take pride in his team’s performance though, as his side kept Kelty out for more than 80 minutes, and almost forced extra time.
The University will take on Bonnyrigg Rose in the Football Nation Qualifying Cup at Forthbank Stadium on Tuesday evening, before playing Northumbria University in the British Universities and Colleges on Wednesday. They return to Lowland League action on Sunday with a home match against East Stirlingshire.
University of Stirling team: Walker, Thompson, Burrows, Quigley, Downie, Berry (Davidson, 89), Chia, Jarvis, Baird, McMaster (Heath, 75), Emmott (Brown, 65)