Dalkeith Thistle’s promotion hopes were dealt a major blow last night after they crashed to a 4-0 defeat away to top-flight Kelty Hearts in the first leg of their Super League play-off.
The King’s Park men have it all to do on Wednesday after Kelty ran out worthy winners at Central Park, with Dalkeith striker Kevin Haynes also shown a late red card.
Despite having to score four to keep their Super League hopes alive in the second leg, coach Brian McNaughton believes the tie is far from over for the Premier League side.
“Any team can score four goals. We’ll be at home and we’re not going to say it’s over, because that is defeatist. But we’ll need to play better than last night,” he said.
The visitors had contained their opponents well for the first 40 minutes of the first-half until Kelty went two ahead before the interval, the second goal coming from a penalty-kick that McNaughton felt should have never been awarded.
He said: “I’ve never seen a penalty like that given in my life. That killed the game, we were up against it from then on.
“We’ve struggled with the players that have got injured. Kelty deserved the win tonight, I just felt the second goal was a poor decision.”
Kelty looked eager to assert their Super League status at the beginning of the opening period, but didn’t test Jags keeper Ross Combe until the 18th minute when the stopper had to tip over a Stuart Cargill effort.
Dalkeith were dealt a blow after 25 minutes when influential midfielder David Morris limped off to be replaced by Haynes and the home side continued to threaten.
Kelty centre-back Roger Duffin twice came close to taking the lead with forays forward – the first chance from a free-kick which was deflected wide, before he tried an acrobatic overhead kick which was cleared.
However, with 40 minutes on the clock, Kelty got the opener their play merited. Duffin got on the end of a cross at the back post and nodded into the six-yard box where Paul Shields rose to send a header over the head of Combe, who seemed to think the ball was heading over the bar.
And Kelty made it two just four minutes later. Referee Lorraine Clark pointed to the spot after she adjudged Jay Hunter to have felled Brian Ritchie – despite the defender appearing to take the ball – and Cargill slotted it away.
Kelty continued in the ascendancy as they went in search for a third in the second half, and it eventually came on 73 minutes from a delightful move down the left wing.
Gary Greenhill jinked his way into the box before cutting back for Ross Philp to sidefoot home.
Cargill then doubled his tally on 85 minutes after latching on to a long ball, which the Dalkeith defence failed to clear, and he dispatched past Combe.
Haynes was then given a second yellow card after reacting to a poor challenge from Thomas Courts at the death – his first coming early in the second-half for halting a Kelty counter.
Kelty Hearts: Fleming, Kay, Duffin, Courts, Morrison, Ritchie, Philp, Forbes (Greenhill), McCabe (Gray), Cargill, Shields.
Dalkeith Thistle: Combe, Main, Hunter, Liddle, Gavin, Murray, Linton, Morris (Haynes), Waters, Flynn, Lally.