King Cup Final

Kelty Hearts 1 Preston Athletic 1

(Kelty Hearts win 7-6 on penalties)

PENALTY shootout heartache denied Preston Athletic the chance to end the season with silverware.

The Panners twice had the King Cup trophy within their grasp but ultimately lost out to high-flying Kelty Hearts, who also lifted the East of Scotland League title.

Kelty had smashed Leith Athletic 8-1 in the semi-final and had already defeated Preston three times over the course of the season.

However, it was a tight affair at Dalkeith’s King’s Park, with Preston matching up well against their opponents.

Ross Cowan came close to giving the East Lothian side a dream start when he capitalised on uncertainty in the Kelty box – his header looked goalbound but Murray Carstairs got back in time to hook the ball clear.

Kelty were having chances of their own but Greg Binnie almost broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark. The frontman shrugged off the attention of the defender and beat the onrushing goalkeeper Scott Christie to the ball, only for it to drop agonisingly wide.

Meanwhile, Preston keeper Craig Pennycuick made an impressive double save at the other end to ensure the scores stayed goalless at the break.

And it was Preston who got their noses in front with 22 minutes left to play. Binnie was again central to the play as he beat Christie to the ball, with the goalkeeper then bringing down the Preston man.

The referee waved away Kelty’s appeals and Binnie dusted himself down to blast the ball past the former Stirling Albion goalkeeper.

Unfortunately for the travelling contingent from Prestonpans, the lead lasted just six minutes. Cowan brought down Ross Philp in the Panners’ box and former Hearts man Stephen Husband made no mistake from 12 yards.

More drama followed as Preston had the ball in the net in injury time but Binnie’s close-range effort was ruled out for offside.

That meant 30 minutes of extra time, with Preston substitute Jack Jardine denied by Christie in the second half.

At the other end, Kelty came within inches of winning the cup in stoppage time but Husband’s shot from the edge of the box clipped the top of the crossbar.

Just before the end of the second half of extra-time, Preston were reduced to 10 men, Steven Campbell given his marching orders.

A penalty shootout was needed to decide the fate of the trophy and Preston were given the upper hand: Husband and Dale Pennycuick had scored to make it 1-1 before Scott Taylor MacKenzie blasted over for the Tayside team.

Jardine found the net along with Michael Moffat and Binnie to leave Preston one kick from glory.

Unfortunately, David Liddle’s aim was off and sudden death followed, with Craig Innes and Liam McFarlane on target for Paul Riley and Jack Lynch’s men.

Ultimately, Christie proved the hero as he denied the unfortunate Jonathan Grotlin from 12 yards to give victory to Kelty.

Preston were desperately unlucky not to lift the trophy, having given Kelty a real scare over the course of 120 minutes where they never looked overpowered or outmatched.

Preston: C Pennycuick, Cowan, Walker, Liddle (Innes 68), Campbell, Woodcock (L McFarlane 63), M McFarlane, D Pennycuick, Binnie, Grotlin, Cochrane (Jardine 90).