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Kane Hester stars as Elgin City shock League 2 leaders and Scottish Cup aces Kelty Hearts

Kane Hester, right, celebrates after scoring the opener for Elgin against Kelty Hearts on Tuesday.
Kane Hester, right, celebrates after scoring the opener for Elgin against Kelty Hearts on Tuesday.

Kane Hester’s double sunk League 2 leaders and Scottish Cup shock-troops Kelty Hearts 2-0 as Elgin City gave their own promotion bid an extra boost.

The red-hot striker fired confident Elgin in front for his 12th goal of the campaign late in the first half and netted again in the second to down the league’s best team.

Although they remain eighth, City are now just two points behind fourth-placed Edinburgh City, while pace-setters Kelty are seven points richer than nearest chasers Forfar Athetic.

Fresh from knocking holders St Johnstone out of the Scottish Cup on Saturday, the Fifers arrived with supreme confidence.

Their shock 5-1 defeat at Annan on Boxing Day apart, Kelty had not lost a match since a 3-2 League Cup group stage loss at Arbroath last July.

Kelty defeated Elgin 3-1 at Borough Briggs in the League Cup last summer, but they needed a stoppage-time Kallum Higginbotham goal to deny City a win at New Central Park on September 11.

The Black and Whites came into this contest on the back of improving form, with their 1-1 draw at home to Albion Rovers just over a week ago extending their unbeaten run to five games.

Home manager Gavin Price made only one change from that afternoon, with goalkeeper Thomas McHale replacing Daniel Hoban, who dropped to the bench.

Latest recruit, ex-Hamilton defender Aldin El-Zubaidi, was one of the other four outfield subs for Elgin.

For Kelty, Andrew Black and Robbie McNab were handed starts, with Daniel Finlayson and Ross Philp being named as substitutions.

A minute’s silence was held before kick-off in respect to local fan and club volunteer Sean Dawson, who passed away at the weekend.

Both teams settled well in this rearranged fixture, showing attacking intent from the word go.

Hester felt he should have been awarded a free-kick moments before Kelty’s Nathan Austin did get one when tripped by Cove Rangers’ loan midfielder Ross Draper, now playing in central defence.

Joe Cardle took that set-piece from out wide left, but McHale confidently dashed out to gather it. He then was on hand to clutch a Thomas O’Ware header when he met another Cardle teaser.

The visitors were enjoying the bulk of the play and Jordon Foster flashed a header past the post on 23 minutes when he connected with Michael Tidser’s corner.

Hester’s off-target overhead kick gave Elgin renewed belief and, eight minutes before the break, the hosts took the lead with a terrific goal.

Darryl McHardy’s superb defensive-splitting found Hester and, with calm control, he slotted the ball past Darren Jamieson.

Elgin’s Kane Hester races away from the Kelty goal after scoring.

A magical moment almost gave Elgin a two-goal cushion on 45 minutes when a lobbed ball from Hester was ideal for Tony Dingwall, whose shot drew a fine stop from Jamieson.

Kelty’s keeper thwarted Russell Dingwall early in the second half, stopping his low effort from a Hester assist.

The Maroon Machine soon clicked into gear as they pushed for a leveller with long spells of possession.

However, City were standing their ground and bettered that with a killer second as McHardy fed it to Hester and he out-classed Forster before finishing coolly.

Elgin will seek push closer to the top four by overtaking sixth-placed hosts Stenhousenuir this weekend, while Kelty are home to mid-table Stranraer.

Kelty will face Elgin again the following weekend in a league match at New Central Park.

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