Premier Sports Cup: Elgin suffer third defeat as Kelty Hearts come from behind to win at Borough Briggs thanks to sub Nathan Austin's late double
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ELGIN City were defeated 3-1 at home to Kelty Hearts in their latest Premier Sports group match.
Just like they did at Dundee United, the Black and Whites took an early lead before succumbing to strong pressure from the Fife visitors.
Elgin were without skipper Euan Spark and stand-in captain Brian Cameron for Tuesday’s tie.
Kelty threatened early on with Alfredo Agyeman having a volley blocked by Angus Mailer off Jamie Barjonas’ right wing cross.
Elgin got their noses in front after five minutes when they won a corner on the right and Archie Macphee’s kick was forced into the net from close range by centre back Creag Little - his first goal in City colours.
A poor clearance by home keeper Tom McHale on 10 minutes fell to Michael Tidser in the centre circle and the Kelty captain tried his luck from 50 yards with a shot that wasn’t far wide, much to McHale’s relief.
The home side had captain-for-the-day Matthew Cooper and Russell Dingwall booked for fouls in quick succession - ref Chris Fordyce was not one for handing out warnings.
McHale saved a Cammy Russell shot on 27 minutes but the ball spilled from his grasp and Botti Biabi was quickly on to it, only to loft a speculative effort high over from an acute angle.
Five minutes later Alfie Agyeman cut in from the left and swerved a fine effort which had McHale well beaten but scraped wide of the far post.
City didn’t have too many first half openings but Josh Peters did go close with a shot on the turn off a Kane Hester feed which drifted by the target.
Agyeman did well on the right to slot a low ball over for Ross Philp, whose strike on goal was smothered by McHale five minutes before the break.
Right on half time, Kelty stopper Jordon Forster pulled back Hester who flicked out a boot in retaliation and might have been relieved to see the ref show just a yellow to him, as well as Forster.
A minute after half time, Jamie Barjonas played Andy Black down the Kelty right and his low cross was fired goalwards by Botti Biabi and McHale pulled off a point blank save, with the ball then striking Biabi and going wide.
Angus Mailer became the fourth Elgin player booked for a foul, and on 52 minutes Kelty were level when Russell fired past McHale from the edge of the area.
The visitors had their tails up now and Agyeman looped a header off the Elgin bar from a Biabi cross on 58 minutes.
A moment later Russell teed up Agyeman again and his low strike was well stopped by McHale diving to his right.
Elgin hit on the break through Russell Dingwall but he delayed his shot too long, before teeing up Peters who made space for a strike which keeper Darren Jamieson pushed aside on 64 minutes.
Kelty brought on experienced trio Nathan Austin, Kallum Higginbotham and Joe Cardle from the bench and it was Austin who put them in front with a brilliant goal on 76 minutes.
The striker advanced before swerving a left foot effort into the top corner from 25 yards past a helpless McHale.
Cardle dragged a shot just past as Kelty - with former Elgin man Thomas Reilly on as sub - chased a clinching third goal in the closing five minutes.
It came when Cardle released the deadly Austin to roll in a calm finish and wrap up victory.
Elgin: McHale; Mailer (Allen 82), Cooper, Little, McHardy; T Dingwall (Lawrence 82), Macphee (MacEwan 62), R Dingwall, Sopel (O’Keefe 62); Hester, Peters (MacBeath 70).
Kelty: Jamieson; Black (Cardle 72), Forster, McNab, Peggie; Philp, Tidser, Russell (Higginbotham 62), Barjonas; Biabi (Austin 62), Agyeman (Reilly 78).
Subs: McKenzie, Martin.
Referee: Chris Fordyce