Broughty Athletic 0 Kelty Hearts 0

THOMAS COURTS believes that Saturday’s hard-earned point on Tayside could prove significant in the Super League title race.

The Kelty Hearts player-boss said that he was pleased to leave Whitton Park with a draw after a game that he described as being of the proverbial two halves as the visitors drew a rare blank.

Courts admitted that the dry and hard surface, combined with a strong wind, made life difficult for both teams but the leaders threatened throughout the opening period, with Jordyn Sheerin denied a 17th-minute opener thanks to an excellent save by John Sinclair low at his left-hand post.

Broughty, however, had a Ryan Blair goal chalked off for a push on the half hour before Kelty had strong penalty appeals for handball waved away by the referee on the stroke of half-time.

The visitors lacked the same intensity in the attacking third after the break and Kyle Marley preserved a point with a fine save to deny Blair from range but Courts told Press Sport he wasn’t too disappointed by the final outcome.

“I was happy with the point. The pitch was really fiery and it was a blustery day; there was almost like a monsoon halfway through the first half,” he said.

“We had chances in the first half; we played the conditions well and some good stuff, and could’ve been two or three up. Unfortunately, we went in 0-0 at half-time and we didn’t have as much energy or creativity in the final third in the second half. But we defended resolutely and, if we can handle the business of the big games that we have coming up, it will be a good point.”

The result leaves Kelty 21 points clear of Bonnyrigg Rose, who have eight games in hand, with four league matches remaining.

Hearts face Bo’ness United after this weekend’s East of Scotland Cup tie at Sauchie and still have to face their nearest challengers on home turf, and Courts added: “It’s not easy to pick up points at this stage of the season and we had two or three injuries as well. We go to Sauchie and it will be a tough game; they look like getting promoted back to the Super League and have cup pedigree after their run in the Scottish Cup.

“It’s important to see the value in these cups; it keeps us playing football and the last thing we want is to be idle for a couple of weeks while Bonnyrigg have so many games to play. From next week I think they’ll play Monday-Wednesday-Saturday, so we hope to have an idea of what we have to do soon.

“But the lads are feeling relaxed; it’s keeping them focused and motivated and they’re giving everything.”

Blackburn United 6 Crossgates Primrose 0

CROSSGATES Primrose began life without Andy Brown by being hit for six at the South Division leaders.

The Humbug Park outfit parted company with their manager immediately after their home defeat to Dunbar but, despite the dugout upheaval and the final score, they gave the title chasers as good as they got for an hour.

The visitors’ squad was decimated by suspensions, injuries and work commitments, meaning that they travelled across the Forth with just a 13-man squad, but they put in a spirited performance before a home goal-rush knocked the stuffing out of them.

Crossgates registered their best result of the season at Blackburn in November with a 3-1 success in the East of Scotland Cup and, for much of this game, there was no reason to discount the chances of a repeat.

Jamie McNeil went close with a 20-yarder in the early stages for Primrose but they had to rely on Mark Higgins to block well from Fraser Cormack as United probed for an opener, which they got six minutes from the break.

It was unfortunate for Higgins, who seemed to deflect Andy McQuillan’s cross-cum-shot beyond goalkeeper Rab Wilson, but Crossgates’ chances disappeared with a remarkable three-goal burst in just four minutes from the hosts.

McQuillan clipped home on the hour mark before two spectacular strikes from John Drummond and Ross Williamson doubled the Blackburn tally, which increased to five with 15 minutes to go through James Mildren.

A double for McQuillan was completed in the 82nd minute but Primrose chair Frazer Martin said: “We played really well for an hour despite the score. They scored a couple of crackers but I was pleased with their efforts and attitude, especially as they were surprised about events the week before.

“They scored a couple of quick goals at 1-0 that lost us the game and I think we tired a bit more quickly than them. We’ve got three games left against teams who are all doing well but if the guys go out with the same attitude they’ve shown all season, then we’ll give them a game.”

Edinburgh United 4 Oakley United 2

EXPERIENCE and becoming more streetwise is what Lee Richardson believes can propel Oakley towards a promotion push next season.

The Blairwood Park boss was left frustrated on Saturday after his team let a lead slip to succumb to defeat at Edinburgh United, who move three points ahead of the West Fifers in mid-table.

A controversial penalty in first-half stoppage time, with the scoreline at 2-2, turned this match in the capital club’s favour and Richardson wasn’t impressed with the decision.

“It was a soft penalty,” he said.

“It’s right on half-time and hasn’t helped our cause. If they hadn’t got the penalty then I think we would’ve drawn or gone on to win the game, and if we could’ve held it at 2-1 for another five or 10 minutes then we probably would’ve gone on to win.

“I felt they were a bit more streetwise and it’s a learning curve. We need more experience; I’m looking for a couple of boys around 27-28 who have played junior football for a few years. I’ve got a hit-list so we’ll see what we can do.”

Taylor Hendry gave Edinburgh an eighth-minute lead only for Lee Celentano and Lyle Kellichan to turn the game on its head by the end of the first quarter.

Gabrielle Auriemma’s raking finish two minutes later squared the contest before the same man netted the controversial spot-kick award to put United ahead again at the end of an entertaining first half.

Sean Guiney wrapped up the points just before the hour and Richardson added: “They probably started better but, after we went 2-1 up, it looked like we’d steamroller them. We let them back into it and the second half was quite even. It was end-to-end but they scored from a corner; it was a good header.

“This season was always about building and I’ve whittled it down to a team of boys who can go forward and play for Oakley.”

Saturday’s fixtures (kick-offs 2.30pm): DJ Laing East of Scotland Cup – Sauchie Juniors v Kelty Hearts. South Division – Livingston United v Oakley United, Rosyth v Crossgates Primrose.