Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale boss Raymond Carr says his side gave Kelty Hearts a footballing lesson despite needing a last-gasp Sam Nhamburo goal to seal their passage through to the Scottish Cup second preliminary round
The teenager had only been on the pitch for seven minutes when his close-range header from a Louis Swanson cross clinched a 1-0 win at New Central Park. The hosts also finished the match with nine men as both Murray Carstairs and Kenny Adamson were given their marching orders in the second half.
The Capital side’s players and bench celebrated as if they’d just won the Scottish Cup, mindful of the success their last adventure in the competition brought two seasons ago when they came within 90 minutes of a mouthwatering fifth-round tie with Celtic. Lothian and Kelty will lock horns again this season in the East of Scotland League after Kelty elected to leave the junior ranks after a 42-year stay as they step up their pursuit of SPFL football.
However, Carr doesn’t believe for a minute they’ll walk the league at a canter as has been suggested in some quarters.
“If it had gone to a replay then I still would have fancied us to beat them down as I think we gave them a football lesson, to be honest, with the way we were knocking it about,” the Lothian manager explained. “With the money they’ve spent in the summer to what we have ... good luck to them. I think they’ve bought the wrong players because if you want to go into the senior leagues then you can’t just launch balls all the time.
“Their supporters have been saying that we have no chance of winning the league and that they’ll be going up at the first attempt but we’ll just go about our own business.
“I just hope some of the other teams in the league stand up to them.”
On his decision to introduce 19-year-old Nhamburo late on, Carr said: “Sean [Wringe] was beginning to tire up there so I thought I’d throw Sam on and told just told him to get into the areas we needed him to be. We knew he was good in the air and what a great header to win it.
“We were playing better when they had 11 as it stopped the momentum we had going. I think we deserved it. There was a wee spell at the start of the second half where we fell out of it but I thought we were the better team.”
The visitors were the more productive during a cagey first half – Jamie Devlin drawing a fine stop from Scott Christie in the Kelty goal after just three minutes.
Wringe shot wide as he raced through on goal from a long clearance out of defence by John Sherlock before Devlin again spurned a decent chance having been put through by Dean Cummings. Kelty were reduced to ten men within nine minutes of the restart, Carstairs shown a second yellow for a trip on Devlin.
The home side rallied, though, and Ross Philp’s net-bound header was clutched away by Kevin Swain before the visiting goalkeeper produced an even smarter stop in the 89th minute as he tipped over a powerful Sean O’Neil header from just a couple of yards.
Adamson was dismissed by referee David Munro for a late lunge on Kevin Brown before Nhamburo struck.
“I hate heading the ball so I thought I was going to fluff it!” Nhamburo admitted afterwards. “I was just relieved to see it hit the back of the net. I’ve played a few games this season and scored a few goals so we’ll see what’s coming next.”
Kelty Hearts: Christie, Carstairs, Taylor-MacKenzie, O’Neil, Adamson, Nimmo (McCabe 89), Husband, Greig, Dalziel (Douglas 69), Ritchie (Campbell 22), Philp. Subs: Penman, Leighton, Cargill, Marley.
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale: Swain, Moore, O’Donnell, Sherlock, Munro, Muir, Hare (Swanson 69), Cummings, Wringe (Nhamburo 85), Brown, Devlin. Subs: Robertson, Crawford, Simpson, Wishart, Hutchison.