BARRY FERGUSON has called on his players to “do themselves justice” as they prepare for an historic match in Kelty Hearts’ history this weekend.

New Central Park will host English opposition for the first time in a competitive match as the Lowland League title hopefuls play Solihull Moors in the third round of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup.

Kelty earned the right to play the National League outfit, who sit seventh after nine games, after beating Kilmarnock Colts and Annan Athletic in what is their first season competing in the tournament.

Ferguson’s side are just one point behind Lowland League pacesetters Bonnyrigg Rose, having won six of their opening seven fixtures, and while he knows they are underdogs, he believes they can pull off a surprise result.

“We’re up against a full-time team, who have obviously got a massive budget compared to us, but it’s a good challenge for the players,” he told Press Sport.

“We’ve had them watched; they’re a big, strong, physical team, and are one of the favourites to go into League Two from the National League.

“I’ll tell them to go out and give it their best shot. We’re underdogs but it’s about us going out and doing what we do, which is to attack teams.

“We’ve had one hiccup, against Cumbernauld Colts (Kelty lost 2-1), but we’ve come back strongly in the last three games, which is credit to the boys.

“I put pressure on the boys but they seem to handle it. I try and set standards myself but the players have got high standards, which is one of the reasons why I brought some players in, and kept some players at the club.

“Our bread and butter is the league but whatever game you enter, you want to try and win. We’re respectful that there are teams with a higher budget and who are full-time but I believe in these players.

“We’ll see where Saturday takes us. Hopefully there’ll be a good crowd and the boys do themselves justice.

“We’ll prepare the boys right, and they’ll prepare themselves right, and if we turn up, I think we have a great chance to win the game.”

The tie marks the beginning of an important few weeks for Kelty, which includes a Scottish Cup first round date with junior big guns Auchinleck Talbot on Friday, September 20 – to be screened on the BBC Scotland channel, and general manager Dean Mckenzie believes the Solihull game is one of the biggest the club have played.

“We’ve been in two junior cup finals, which have been our biggest games, but arguably this is one of the biggest games we’ve played,” he said.

“It’s all hands on deck to make sure the ground is ready, and we hope that the village, our supporters and friends will turn out, and I’m sure they will.

“It’s definitely caught the imagination, with it being Scotland versus England, and Barry actually stayed in Solihull when he played for Birmingham. The former secretary at Birmingham when Barry was there is now the secretary at Solihull as well!

“It’s going to be a big few weeks and we’re all looking forward to it.”

Midfielder Stephen Husband added: “It’s massive. After going through against Annan, everyone was excited and wanted a home tie.

“We’ve scored 22 goals, and conceded none, in our last three games. We’ve made a good few signings; the gaffer’s brought in boys he knows and it shows with our results.”

Kelty will be without the injured Dylan Easton and suspended Murray Carstairs, while Sean McKirdy is rated as “50-50”. Entry is pay at the gate, costing £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.