Kelty Hearts 2 Broxburn Athletic 0
SUPER LEAGUE leaders Kelty Hearts returned to winning ways with a much-needed three points against Broxburn on Saturday.
Goals from Jordyn Sheerin and Stephen Husband brought a run of two successive defeats to an end against a visiting team who finished with 10 men after goalkeeper Connor Wallace was ordered off.
The victory maintains Kelty’s 23-point lead over second-placed Bo’ness United and third-placed Bonnyrigg Rose, and sets them up nicely for today's East of Scotland Cup derby with Hill of Beath Hawthorn.
The win was Thomas Courts’ side’s 20th in the league but it wasn’t straightforward in the early stages; Kyle Marley had to save well from a free kick but the contest changed in bizarre circumstances in the 20th minute.
Sheerin had been flagged offside but, as Broxburn took a short free kick, Sean O’Neil was lurking to intercept the ball and run in on goal, where he was sent crashing to the ground outside the area by Wallace.
The referee showed him the red card but that didn’t stop the visitors from forcing Marley into some decent stops as they pressed looking for an opener.
But it was the home side who made the breakthrough six minutes from half-time when, despite suspicions of handball, Sheerin brought Murray Carstairs’ cross under control before firing beyond the goalkeeper from around six yards.
Despite being a man short, Broxburn continued to threaten after the break and man-of-the-match Marley had to be in top form to keep Hearts’ clean sheet intact with several fine stops.
That proved crucial as, with 15 minutes left, Kelty sealed the win when Garry Leighton’s perfectly-weighted low cross from the right after a good passing moved picked out Husband, who slotted home with the inside of his right foot from just inside the penalty area.
It was a good afternoon’s work for Courts, who commented: “We had a few players out with injuries and we knew how difficult Broxburn are to play against but we worked very hard and got the result we needed after these recent set-backs.
“We have to keep aiming to maintain our momentum and pick up as many wins as possible to make it difficult for Bonnyrigg to catch us.”
Hearts thumped rivals Haws 5-0 in their most recent meeting in January’s Scottish Cup tie but the New Central Park boss added: “It will be a very interesting tie. The Haws will be out to redress the balance after our Scottish Cup win over them and it will be a very hard game.”
Oakley United 1 Blackburn United 6
LEE RICHARDSON felt that big decisions cost his under-strength team as Oakley United crashed against South Division leaders Blackburn United.
The home team only had 10 fit signed players available to play in the game, meaning Richardson was forced to field three teenage trialists, but he felt two penalty calls against his side helped turn the tide the visitors’ way.
After opening the scoring midway through the first half through one of their trialists with a well-taken angled drive, Oakley were angered at being denied what they felt was a clear spot-kick for handball before Blackburn pulled themselves level.
Oakley then went behind in first half stoppage time, then conceded a controversial penalty five minutes after the break when Lyle Kellichan was penalised. The penalty was converted and it soon went to 4-1 before things went from bad to worse for Oakley as centre back Tony Doubleday was ordered off for a second bookable offence.
The rout was then completed and Richardson said: “I started two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old, I had some boys who hadn’t played for a while on the bench to help me out and one of our coaches on the bench as well. I can’t take anything away from Blackburn but at 1-0 we should’ve had a penalty and it could’ve been a different game.”
Richardson’s problems don’t appear to be easing ahead of today’s visit to Livingston United and he added: “I was happy with the effort but it was unfortunate that I couldn’t change it because we just didn’t have the personnel. I think I’ve got about seven out injured and, at the moment, I reckon I’ll have eight or nine signed players and the rest of the team will be trialists.
“I’ve not got a goalie at the minute as Ryan Adamson fell down the stairs and broke his toe and twisted his ankle. But we’ll have a team and see how we go.”
Easthouses Lily 3 Crossgates Primrose 1
CROSSGATES’ preparations for this weekend’s East of Scotland Cup tie at Dundee North End were dealt a blow by Easthouses Lily on Saturday.
Andy Brown’s team will travel up the M90 bidding for a quarter-final slot on the back of an 11th South Division reverse of the campaign that leaves them third-bottom in the table.
Primrose had the better of the opening exchanges against their fourth-placed hosts in Midlothian but fell behind in only the seventh minute.
It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the Humbug Park men when they fell two behind in 18 minutes and the visitors had Rab Wilson in goal to thank for keeping them in contention.
Just before the half-hour mark, Liam Forbes pulled one back to give the visitors hope and they pushed for an equaliser in the second half, with Forbes spurning a golden opportunity from eight yards, before Lily wrapped the game up in stoppage time.
Saturday’s fixtures (kick-offs 2.30pm): DJ Laing East of Scotland Cup – Kelty Hearts v Hill of Beath Hawthorn, Dundee North End v Crossgates Primrose. McBookie.com South Division – Livingston United v Oakley United, Rosyth v Easthouses Lily.