KELTY HEARTS have bolstered their squad by signing an international defender as one of their promotion heroes departed for pastures new.

Ahead of their weekend win at Albion Rovers, the New Central Park club announced the arrival of Malawi defender, Kieran Ngwenya, from Aberdeen, whilst forward Cammy Russell moved to Spartans.

Ngwenya, 18, was due to start for Kevin Thomson's team at Cliftonhill - a game marred by hat-trick hero, Nathan Austin, being the target of racist abuse from a home supporter - but was a late withdrawal from the side, being replaced by Scott Hooper.

He has signed a season-long loan deal with club, having put pen to paper on a new contract with the Dons in July that ties him to the Pittodrie club until 2024.

Having made his debut for the Reds against Ross County in December last year, Ngwenya joined League One Cove Rangers on loan in March, making seven appearances, before making his Malawi debut in a June friendly with Tanzania.

Neil Simpson, Aberdeen's pathways manager, told his club's website: "Kieran is a player who has real potential and this loan spell will only aid his continued development.

"I’m sure he will reap the benefits of regular game time, in a competitive league, whilst also continuing to train with the first team here."

Following Ngweyna's arrival, it was announced that Russell had left New Central Park for Lowland League Spartans.

The 23-year-old, who previously turned out for Airdrieonians and East Kilbride, joined Kelty in August 2019 and played a key role in last season's Lowland League title win, and League Two play-off win over Brechin City.

He netted the decisive goal in the first leg of the final, which Kelty won 2-1, before Michael Tidser's goal won the return at Glebe Park 1-0 to send the club into the SPFL for the first time.

Announcing his departure, the club wished him well on his move to the capital, describing him as "a huge player in the club's success over the past two seasons", whilst Russell himself wrote on Twitter: "Some amazing memories and a great group of boys but time to move. Good luck in the league lads".

In the league, Kelty continued their impressive start to life in League Two in Coatbridge, remaining unbeaten and top of the table.

They took the lead after only 11 minutes when Austin, from a fine Kallum Higginbotham pass, fired a shot beyond goalkeeper Cameron Binnie high into the net from around six yards out.

Nine minutes later, the prolific striker doubled his team's tally with a textbook header from a Higginbotham cross, and then wrapped up the game - and sealed the match ball - by pouncing on a defensive error, cutting inside onto his left foot, and drilling home from eight yards.

The result leaves Kelty two points clear of second top Annan Athletic, with five wins from seven, and with an impressive 12 goals in just four matches on the road.

Meanwhile, the club will bid to reach the third round of the Scottish Cup for the first time in their history next month and will enjoy home advantage.

The second round draw, conducted by Callum Davidson, who managed St Johnstone to the trophy, as well as the League Cup, last season, has pitted Kelty against either Cumbernauld Colts, of the Lowland League, or Highland League Buckie Thistle.

The tie will take place on Saturday October 23.