Bo’ness United goal hero Colin Leiper ended league leaders Kelty Hearts’ 12-game unbeaten Super League run with his sweet second half strike, but revealed he was more happy to come away with a clean sheet.
It was unlucky 13 for visitors Kelty against their Scottish Junior Cup conquerors – the BUs having beaten the Fife club on their own park last month. This league fixture was meant to be held at Kelty’s Central Park ground, but after failing an early morning pitch inspection, the match was switched to Bo’ness.
In the only game to go ahead in the East Region, champions Bo’ness gave themselves a fighting chance of regaining their title as they cut Kelty’s lead to 12 points and now have two games in hand.
Former Camelon defender Leiper was pleased with his 20-yard strike which secured the win, but said a clean sheet meant more against the league’s top scorers given the number of goals his side had conceded in the last two rounds of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
“I’m happy with the goal from a personal point of view, but the performance was really pleasing as well,” he said. “We have lost a lot of goals recently in the senior Scottish, so it was nice to keep a clean sheet.
“It’s nice knowing that we never really gave them a sniff of goal and they’ve been scoring goals freely.
The centre-back, who was paired alongside Stuart Hunter at the heart of the home defence for the first time since pre-season, hopes the result can re-ignite their title charge and insists the win will count for nothing if they don’t win at home to Musselburgh Athletic next week.
“I’m hoping this can get us back in the title race. We have a strong enough squad to do it and hopefully we can find a bit of consistency now.
“It’s only one game and it’s only three points. We need to go and carry this form into the next couple of games, and if we get beat next week Saturday has been for nothing.”
In a dour opening 45 minutes, it took 43 of them for either side to really test the opposition defence. Bo’ness right back Will Snowdon was guilty in giving the ball away on the 15-minute mark, when Neil McCabe nicked it off him deep in Bo’ness’ half, but he was unable to test goalkeeper Connor Wallace.
Former Bo’ness captain Roger Duffin was lucky to escape without a booking after a reckless, studs-up challenge on home midfielder Nicky Walker. The tackle would’ve warranted a red card by some referees, but Peter Stuart didn’t even produce a yellow.
Kelty came close to an opener on 25 minutes. Conrad Courts spread a pass out wide to Craig O’Reilly and he fed Cargill down the byline, who swept a ball across the goalmouth, but nobody could get on the end of it.
Bo’ness came close to taking the lead just before half-time. Stuart Hunter saw his close-range shot turned away from a corner, before defensive partner Leiper’s header was cleared off the line by Cargill.
The visitors were dealt a blow just before half-time, when player-manager Tam Courts was forced off with a back injury. The loss of his leadership and organisation in defence for the visitors proved vital in the second half.
With Kelty switching to a defensive three as a result, they looked vulnerable at the back. Fifteen minutes into the second period and they were breached.
Scott Pittman was a constant threat all afternoon for the home side and he teed up man-of-the-match Leiper on a plate to put Bo’ness ahead – his arrowed strike from the edge of the box fired through a ruck of bodies into the bottom corner.
The home side were comfortable now and looked likely to add to their lead.
Leiper came close again with a backpost header, before former Kelty midfielder Ross Philp saw his shot deflected wide of the post.
The visitors’ Mark Morrision was shown a second yellow card late on after bringing down Philp.
Bo’ness United: Wallace, Snowdon, Leiper, Murphy, Hunter, Devine (Sloan), Walker, Philp. Cowan (Anderson), Pittman, Donnelly.
Kelty Hearts: Allison, Duffin, Leighton, O’Neill, T.Courts (Grady), Morrison, Ritchie, McCabe (Manson), O’Reilly (Shields), Cargill.