SFA South Region Challenge Cup, 2nd round:

Vale of Leithen 1

Kelty Hearts 6

NATHAN AUSTIN says confidence is high amongst his Kelty Hearts team-mates after they prepared for their Scottish Cup tie with the joy of six on Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who joined in the summer from Inverness Caledonian Thistle, reached the 20-goal mark after just 11 competitive games with another hat-trick during a comfortable win at Vale of Leithen.

Despite falling behind to Alex Imlah’s 12th-minute effort, Austin’s treble, and goals from Murray Carstairs, Chris Dodd and Scott McBride, sealed Kelty’s victory ahead of their clash with Auchinleck Talbot tomorrow (Friday) night.

“The confidence is good and the lads are all pulling in the one direction,” he said.

“But it’s just the start. We’ll keep our feet on the ground; we’ve got a long season ahead, and obviously a tough Scottish Cup match against a really good Auchinleck team that people are going to be talking about and watching.

“Our main focus is the league but, for a massive, special match like this, it’s going to be brilliant for the fans and also the players.

“It’s something you want to be involved in as a football player, big matches like this, with the press and people talking and stuff. But it’s just a game of football at the end of the day and, hopefully, we can do the business on the pitch.

“We’ll treat training the same as we always do and prepare the way we always do.

“If we can get the win, it’s great for the club, for the fans and also us. A lot of players have maybe not reached the heights they’ve wanted to but this could be a game to showcase what the boys can do.”

Boss Barry Ferguson missed the Vale of Leithen victory to watch Talbot, who drew 1-1 with leaders Hurlford United to maintain their unbeaten start to the West Region Premiership, and commented: “You can imagine I was on the phone after going a goal down after 20 minutes, trying to get hold of Bob (Malcolm, his assistant), and he wasn’t wanting to answer!

“We responded in the right way. We did a professional job and that’s all I asked of them on Thursday night; I told them I wouldn’t be there, but I expected us to go down, do the job and come back up the road in the next round of the cup.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow, he added: “I’m excited about it and I’m sure they (the players) will be excited seeing all the camera towers. It’s brilliant; that’s what you play football for, isn’t it?

“That’s one of the things the club wanted, a bit of exposure, and the only way you’re going to get that is by doing well and having a good team on the field. But I’m respectful of the fact we’re going to be playing against a tough team. They know how to play the game, and they’ve got good individual players as well. We’ve got a hard job in hand.”

l Barry Ferguson and Nathan Austin were speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.