Joint leaders play out a scrappy draw

Bo'ness midfielder Ross Philp wasn't too downbeat about the result
Bo'ness midfielder Ross Philp wasn't too downbeat about the result
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This top-of-the-table clash could have been extended for another 90 minutes and both sides would still be searching for that elusive opener.

It was more brawn than beauty at Newtown Park as the visiting Super League champions slogged it out with last season’s runners-up in a match billed as a possible game of the season contender.

It will live long in the memory for the wrong reasons, however, with the first shot on target arriving after 75 minutes in what was a match that just never got going as both sides cancelled each other out.

Kelty would’ve been the happier side with the point, in this their ninth league fixture on the road while work continues to install a 3G surface on their Central Park pitch, although Bo’ness midfielder Ross Philp wasn’t too downbeat about the result with his side struggling on the injury front.

“I think after the defeat last week and looking at the league, they’ve obviously got a game in a hand so a win for us would’ve cancelled that out, but it’s better than getting beat as that would’ve put us further behind,” said the former Kelty player.

“We didn’t make a lot of chances, which didn’t help us. We had a lot of pressure in the first half and then the second half just turned into a battle, but I thought we stood up to that.

Kelty striker Paul Currie should’ve done better when presented with the game’s first opportunity after nine minutes, but from the centre of the box, he skewed his effort wide.

Former Linlithgow Rose star Calum Smith then came close for the visitors when he flashed an effort across goal, although none of his team-mates were there to claim the spoils.

The game was being scrapped out in the middle of the park, as both teams, level at the top of the table, sized each other up.

Bo’ness felt defender Sean O’Neill should have been sent-off when he hauled down Nicky Walker on the edge of the box after 21 minutes, with the darting winger about to pull the trigger as he scampered through.

O’Neill appeared to be the last defender and was lucky to get away with the yellow card referee Duncan Smith dished out. Robert Sloan tried his luck from the free-kick which was deflected over, before another set piece chance was inches away from the opener.

Ex-Hearts midfielder Sloan lined up an audacious effort from over 30 yards and his dipping strike had Kelty keeper Kyle Allison worried as it flew inches over the frame of his goal.

The second half turned into more of an attritional battle, the sort more likely to be seen on a sodden winter’s afternoon than a dry, bright autumn day on a tidy looking pitch.

The crowd were woken from its slumber on 70 minutes with the introduction of two players who know how to find the net in Stuart Cargill of Kelty and Darren Gribben of the home side, who at least gave hope to those watching that either might be able to produce a moment of quality to win the match.

Bo’ness suddenly looked a lot sharper with their talisman on the pitch, although it was Kelty who could take acclaim for having the first attempt on target as Brian Ritchie rose to head Scott Gates’ cross into the arms of Scott Christie.

Stewart Devine did the same for Bo’ness, with his free-kick, which was heading for the top corner until Allison intervened.

Cargill did his best to fling his boot at a loose ball in the area as the match entered the final ten minutes, only to send his effort narrowly wide, before his dipping shot in the final minute was straight at Christie.

Bo’ness United: Christie, McGregor, Devine, Campbell, Hunter (Morrison), Nimmo, Walker, Philp, Sloan (Gribben), Donnelly, Gemmell.

Kelty Hearts: Allison, Jacobs, Gates, O’Neil, T. Courts, C. Courts, Husband, Greig (Cargill), Smith, Ritchie (Morrison), Currie (McCabe).