Kelty Hearts 0-3 Auchinleck Talbot, William Hill Scottish Cup, First Round

KELTY HEARTS' Scottish Cup dreams turned into an on-screen nightmare as Auchinleck Talbot sent them spinning out at New Central Park tonight.

In a tie that was broadcast live on the BBC Scotland television channel - the first such occasion for a Hearts home game - Barry Ferguson's men were comfortably beaten in their first meeting with the junior big guns since 2013.

In that game, a Scottish Junior Cup quarter-final, the Ayrshire side triumphed 4-0 and the Lowland League hosts were to suffer another chastening evening in front of a crowd of more than 1,600.

After a relatively even opening 20 minutes, Craig McCracken's header gave Tommy Sloan's side the lead, which they doubled a minute from the break thanks to Keir Samson.

Mark Shankland's looping header just eight minutes into the second half made an already difficult task for Kelty an impossible one as they made an early exit from the tournament.

The home side were bidding to reach the second round of the competition for the second successive season, where, 12 months ago, they narrowly lost out to Peterhead by the odd-goal in five.

Ferguson, who joined in a pre-match minute's applause in memory of former Rangers team-mate, Fernando Ricksen, who passed away after a brave battle with Motor Neurone Disease earlier this week, had urged his players to enjoy the experience of playing in front of the cameras ahead of the game.

But he also warned them to expect a hard fixture against a Talbot side that had won all six of their previous first round matches, and who last season, memorably saw off neighbours Ayr United in round four, before eventually being knocked out by Hearts at Tynecastle.

Kelty went into it having hit an incredible 52 goals in just 11 competitive games so far this season, and having suffered just two defeats - one of them on penalties to Solihull Moors, of the English National League, in the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Cup - but it was their opponents who handled the occasion better.

Red-hot hitman Nathan Austin was responsible for 20 of those strikes and only two defeats - to Cumbernauld Colts in the league, and to English National League Solihull Moors, on penalties, in the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Cup - had been suffered by the men in maroon.

It was they who had the first effort inside a minute, which thankfully flew wide of Ben Mackenzie's post, beforeChris Dodd, almost immediately, tested Andrew Leishman with a half-volley that the keeper held comfortably in what was an exciting start.

That was shortly followed by Graham Wilson's header from eight yards being held by Kelty keeper Ben Mackenzie, before a a penalty appeal - from the crowd mainly - was raised when Samson went down as Mackenzie came out to meet the ball.

There was nothing doing but, soon after, the visitors were in front.

A free-kick on the left was swung into the box by Mark Shankland and McCracken, having got away from his marker, had all the time he needed to bullet a header from eight yards into the back of the net.

Chris Dodd tried to respond immediately with an effort that was blocked, but the Talbot goal rocked the hosts and their massed ranks of supporters.

They had a penalty shout of their own - more in hoope than anything from the fans - when Austin went down in between two challenges after initially flicking the ball over Neil McPherson's head, but referee Mike Roncone was having none of it.

Things almost got worse for the hosts seven minutes from the interval as Auchinleck came within a lick of paint of doubling their advantage.

A swift break after Kelty had conceded the ball cheaply in midfield led to the danger as, after Murray Carstairs cleared the initial move for a throw, the visitors got on with it quickly.

The ball was played into the middle by Gordon Pope and Dwayne Hislop met it, but his header, thankfully, crashed off the post.

However, just a minute from the break, Auchinleck did make it 2-0 after a defensive lapse from Danny Ashe.

His attempted header back towards Mackenzie in trying to deal with a high ball didn't find its target, and was seized upon by Graham Wilson.

Although the keeper got gloves to the Talbot man's attempted lob, Samson instinctively followed in looking for crumbs, and was rewarded when the ball fell kindly to him to net from close range.

Ferguson responded by sending Ross Philp on at the break for Stephen Husband but, less than 10 minutes into the second period, Talbot scored a third.

It came from a free-kick conceded by Carstairs for fouling Stephen Wilson just over halfway, which was flighted in by Pope.

Hislop headed it across goal where Shankland was waiting to, with a header of his own, send the ball looping over Mackenzie to spark wild celebrations amongst the visiting support.

Cammy Russell, who along with strike partner Austin was starved of service, tried to take matters into his own hands on the hour mark with an ambitious shot from range, but it was wayward.

Moments later, a better opportunity presented itself to him at the edge of the box, but his curler was also off-target as Kelty tried to fashion a response.

Ashe tried to find a route back into it, first with a shot that was deflected behind, then with a header that sailed over from the resulting corner, but the hosts were finding little change from their opponents.

Although Austin and Gary Cennerazzo forced smart stops from Leishman, and Thomas Reilly fired a ranger over, there was to be no goal for Kelty for the first time this season as they bowed out of the cup.

Kelty Hearts: Mackenzie, Cennerazzo, Linton, Carstairs, Ashe, T. Reilly, Husband, McKirdy, Austin, Russell, Dodd.

Subs: Scobbie, Philp, Campbell, Bragg, Ritchie, McBride, Jardine.

Auchinleck Talbot: Leishman, Lyle, Pope, McPherson, McCracken, Armstrong, Hislop, S. Wilson, Samson, G. Wilson, Shankland.

Subs: Glasgow, Boylan, Healy, McDowall, Young, White, Hewitt.

Goals: McCracken (20), Samson (44), Shankland (53).

Referee: Mike Roncone.