Musselburgh Athletic boss Calvin Shand felt his side didn’t get the result their performance merited in their 2-1 defeat by Kelty Hearts, believing the least they deserved was a point at home to the league leaders.
Former Hibs coach Shand was left fuming after Kelty’s 82nd minute winner was allowed to stand – one time Dunfermline striker Jordan Moore rounding goalkeeper Kieron Renton after what Shand felt was a high boot in the lead-up.
Referee Mike Taylor wasn’t interested in the protests from Burgh players, however and allowed the goal to stand, as Kelty stretched their unbeaten run to 16 games, strengthening their grip at the league summit.
“The boy scores a great goal for the first but the second goal is a foul,” said Shand. “It’s 100 per-cent a foul and the ref gets it wrong, those decisions cost you sometimes. He came in high with his studs up to win the ball and it fell to the striker.
“I thought we deserved at least a point as we were the better team. We were the only team trying to play football, trying to pass it and apart from the result, I couldn’t be happier with the performance.
“We deserved more than that and if they took a point away, I would’ve been disappointed. We are in the early days of our journey and the players are buying into what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to create an identity and a type of football.
“They didn’t create anything, they never played good football, they just scrapped and scrapped. That’s what they’ve been doing but that’s a sign of teams that will be up there at the end of the season.
“I’d be worried if we weren’t putting in performances, but we are playing well and the results will come.”
Burgh were brave against a rampant Kelty side, who came into the match having hit 46 goals in just 15 games, as they set up with a back three.
They took the game to their visitors in the first half and were just inches away from taking the lead after eight minutes when Declan O’Kane’s overhit cross almost looped over goalkeeper Kyle Marley and into the top corner. The home side were passing the ball about crisply on a chilly afternoon, finding opportunities in front of goal easy to come by.
Conor Thomson almost rounded off an enterprising move with team-mate Connor Spowart midway through the first half, but Spowart’s cutback was cleared away by centre-back Sean O’Neill with Thomson waiting to pounce.
The opener for Kelty on 33 minutes came against the run of play, but what a fine strike it was. Craig Thomson’s corner-kick was cleared out only as far as the edge of the box and right-back Neil McCabe was there to meet it as he crashed a first-time strike in off the post.
Burgh had Renton to thank as he prevented striker Stuart Cargill making it two just minutes later, sending the ball wide with his feet.
Renton was then alert to keep the ball out at his backpost on 53 minutes. Thomson’s free-kick found Brian Ritchie who tried to force the ball home but the big keeper parried wide.
Buoyed by surviving that near escape, Burgh pulled level two minutes later. Jed Davie swiped at thin air with his first attempt, but then caught it perfectly on the laces and drove a low effort through a packed penalty area.
Stephen Husband rattled the bar with a long-range free-kick attempt for the Fifers as they looked to regain their lead.
They did so, eight minutes from time. Captain Shaun Greig raised his boot on the edge of the area to nick the ball away from John McManus, sending it through for substitute Moore whose finish was composed.
Burgh pushed forward in search of an equaliser, substitute Matti King coming close with a couple of half chances but Kelty held on and they’ll take some stopping for anyone to dislodge them off top spot.
Musselburgh Athletic: Renton, McManus, Lynch, Dunn, O’Kane, Murphy, Cherrie, Spowart, Davie, Thomson (King), Ralton
Kelty Hearts: Marley, Neil McCabe, Courts (Carstairs), O’Neill, Leighton, Husband, Thomson, Greig, Ritchie (Moore), Cargill, Neil McCabe (Dalziel)