Bo’ness United have five “cup finals” to retain their Super League title crown after they beat league leaders Kelty Hearts on their own park to breathe life into what many had regarded as a foregone conclusion.
The Fife outfit have led from the front from day one of a remarkable season, which has seen them lose just three times in the league and bank up points on their way to the top while other teams lagged behind both on points and in games played.
Tam Courts’ men hold a nine-point lead over the BUs and have just two games remaining of their campaign, but if Bo’ness were to win all five of their remaining fixtures, they could usurp the Central Park side, who are bidding to win the title for the first time.
For Bo’ness winger Nicky Walker, who scored the second-half opener before winning the penalty for the crucial second, the result will mean nothing unless they win at home to Newtongrange Star on Wednesday night to maintain their challenge.
“It was all or nothing for us and we had to throw caution to the wind,” he said. “It was always going to be a cagey affair and a draw would’ve probably done Kelty, but we managed to get the win.
“The result could count for absolutely nothing if we don’t win against Newtongrange on Wednesday.”
The match was delayed by 30 minutes due to heavy traffic on the Forth Road Bridge, but when referee Duncan Smith eventually blew his whistle to kick-start the top versus second clash, neither side were affected too much.
The visitors’ Darren Gribben had the best opportunity to open the scoring for either side when he latched onto Will Snowdon’s searching ball, however he could only flick his attempt wide as he tried to cushion it into the bottom corner past home keeper Kyle Allison.
Kelty player-manager Tam Courts was perhaps lucky to escape without punishment after his challenge on Walker on the edge of the box might have merited a red card just before the break. But, for what seemed like a certain foul, referee Smith waved play on much to the frustration of Gribben who was booked for his protests.
The Bo’ness goalkeeper did well to smother at the feet of Paul Currie inside the box after home striker Stuart Cargill fed him from the right side on 50 minutes. But a last-ditch block from defender Courts prevented Bo’ness captain Chris Donnelly from getting a shot away as the visitors picked up the intensity. Although it was Kelty, but for a superb stop from Peat, that would’ve been ahead on 71 minutes. Currie cut in from the left, nutmegging Snowdon in the process and aimed for the far corner, but former Aberdeen keeper Peat was able to tip over.
Two minutes later and the visitors were in front. Gribben’s ball up the right from his own half landed perfectly for Walker and after his shot was initially saved, he raced in ahead of two Kelty defenders to hammer home the rebound.
A crucial second then arrived after Walker went down under a Courts shirt tug in the box and Snowdon calmly dispatched from 12 yards for number two.
Kelty Hearts: Allison, Morrison, Leighton, O’Neil, T.Courts, C.Courts, Currie, Greig (Penman), Dalziel, Cargill, McCabe (Grady).
Bo’ness United: Peat, Murphy, Snowdon, Campbell, Leiper, Nimmo (Alexander), Walker, Philp, Sloan (Anderson), Donnelly, Gribben.
Referee: D Smith