CIVIL SERVICE STROLLERS striker Ian Ballantyne admits his side were simply blown away by the power of Kelty Hearts as the East Super League champions stormed to a 4-0 win in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish second preliminary-round clash at Christie Gillies Park.
The East of Scotland outfit’s hopes of reaching the first-round proper were killed off by Kelty’s blistering first-half display which produced three goals.
Ballantyne said: “Kelty were a much bigger and stronger side than us and you could see why they won the Super League last season.
“We played well, though, and everyone put in a shift. It’s just a pity we didn’t get any reward for the effort.
“Their back two were huge guys and it was tough to get anything from them but we will take it on the chin and hopefully take that effort into our league campaign.”
Strollers goalkeeper Stuart Burnside had kept the Fifers at bay, saving well from Calum Smith twice before conceding the first goal just before the half-hour mark.
Kelty were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out on the left. and up stepped Stevie Husband to drive the ball past Burnside.
Kelty doubled their lead ten minutes before the interval when last season’s top scorer Stuart Cargill smashed the ball home following a scramble in the Strollers box, the home side’s appeals for an offside flag falling on deaf ears.
Then, five minutes later, Cargill scored the Fifers’ third with a spectacular strike into the top corner after Smith had played him in.
The second half was a much less frantic affair, with Kelty taking their foot off the pedal.
Strollers frontman Ballantyne was having a frustrating afternoon as their lone man up front but put in a tremendous shift looking for an opening which never came.
Kelty’s fourth goal was another class strike just after the hour mark when full-back Scott Gates, on the overlap down the left, took a pass from Smith and curled a low shot with the outside of his left foot into the far bottom corner of the net.
Strollers boss Alex Cunningham was quick to praise his players and their opponents.
“Our lads did well because it was always gong to be a tough tie,” he said. “They will give any senior side problems and we wish them well in the cup.
“I’m happy with our team’s performance, though, because they never gave up and if they play like this every week, we can do well in our own league.
“Everyone ran their socks off and the effort was terrific. Hopefully, the players will learn from Saturday’s efforts and can go on and have a good season.”
Civil Service Strollers: Burnside, McQuirter, Galen (Campbell), Milven, Wilson, Newalls, Stewart, Boggie, Ballantyne, Finnie, Young. Subs: Middlemass, Watson, Buckley, Stone, Sutherland, Brown.
Kelty Hearts: Allison, Carstairs, Gates, O Neill, T Courts, C Courts, Ritchie, Husband (Currie), Smith (O’Reilly), Cargill, McCabe. Subs: Hughes, Penman, Dalziel.