Kelty Hearts stun St Johnstone as irate fans vent fury at holders after full-time whistle

The remarkable decline of St Johnstone reached its lowest ebb, while the fairytale rise of Kelty Hearts hit new heights as the holders crashed out of the Scottish Cup at New Central Park.

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson.
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson.

Callum Davidson's side were met with angry scenes from irate supporters at full-time – who they had to walk through to reach the dressing room – but all the credit goes to Kevin Thomson's men for a heroic effort in knocking out a team from three divisions above.

Kallum Higginbotham's extra-time winner sealed a famous win for the League Two leaders in a match that, of all the fourth round ties, was the one with the most potential for an upset.

Saints went into it on the back of nine consecutive defeats and sit bottom of the Scottish Premiership, while Kelty only have one league defeat all season, and are seven points clear in League Two with two games in hand.

Kallum Higginbotham scored Kelty's winner.

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But even still, a side who won a domestic double last season, who punched above their weight in Europe, and who could afford to list the likes of Murray Davidson, Efe Ambrose, Glenn Middleton, Stevie May, Michael O'Halloran and Liam Craig on the bench, should have been too strong.

There was no suggestion of the Saints fans turning on their team after a flat first half. Indeed, Davidson was loudly cheered as he emerged from the changing rooms, followed by his players, before sprinting across the pitch to the dugout.

The mood had changed by full-time though with Saints players subjected to a severe heckling as they made their way to the changing rooms, passing directly through a baying mob of irate supporters on the terraces as stewards stepped in.

In contrast, at the other end of the pitch, Kelty players danced in front of their delirious fans as they celebrated reaching the fifth round for the first time in their history.

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Saints attempts at winning the match were limited to firing long balls into a Kelty defence that had all the answers. The hosts were happy to contain and try to hit on the break.

Kelty goalkeeper Darren Jamieson was called into action twice in the first half to deny a Chris Kane header and an Ali Crawford strike, but he had nothing to do after the break.

Given the way they had played, Saints would have gladly accepted a home replay at the end of the 90, as is normally the case in the Scottish Cup, but with Covid dictating ties to be finished on the day, there was no such reprieve on this occasion.

It was difficult to see where Saints would conjure up a goal in the extra 30 minutes but Crawford almost found the breakthrough, his superbly struck 25-yard free-kick rebounding off the crossbar.

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Their best hope appeared to be tiring legs in their part-time opponents leading to a mistake, but it was the home side who pounced on an error to get the goal that would clinch a historic win.

Debutant Tony Gallacher was Saints' last man back when he was caught in possession by substitute Alfredo Agyeman, who raced down the right and crossed for Higginbottom, who took a touch, then another, and as the crowd held its breath, the winger fired past Zander Clark to spark wild celebrations.

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