BARRY FERGUSON insists that Kelty Hearts' mouthwatering clash with Bonnyrigg Rose won't determine the destination of the Lowland League title.

But the New Central Park boss admits that victory after what he hopes will be an entertaining 90 minutes would be a "confidence-booster" in their bid to be crowned champions and earn a crack at promotion to the SPFL.

Since losing out to Auchinleck Talbot in front of the BBC Scotland cameras in the Scottish Cup first round in September, Ferguson's pacesetters have embarked on a stunning 21-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Prior to last Tuesday night's 5-0 win over Whitehill Welfare in the last eight of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup, Kelty had won 15 out of 16 league games, with the other being drawn.

After 23 fixtures – one more than Bonnyrigg, who are three points adrift – they have scored 90 goals on their way to a goal difference of 77, which is 28 better than their rivals.

The Midlothian club's promotion from the East of Scotland League last term rekindled a rivalry that saw them battle for top honours in junior football's East Region in recent times, prior to Kelty moving to the senior pyramid in 2017.

Last month, Ferguson managed to further strengthen his squad with the signings of former Pars defender Craig Reid, from East Kilbride, and ex-Morton midfielder Michael Tidser, who left Falkirk after just half a season.

Speaking to Press Sport, the former Scotland and Rangers skipper said that, while his side have a lot of work ahead of them to achieve their target, he's excited to lock horns with Kelty's closest challengers.

"It's two teams who have done exceptionally well this season and it's why you want to be involved at the top of the league," he commented.

"It'll be two good teams going against each other, and I'm looking forward to it, but it's not going to define who wins the league.

"For whoever wins, it'll be a confidence-booster, but there's a lot of football to be played.

"Some of the football we've played has been really good and a lot of the goals we've scored have been good but the boys are prepared to work hard and that's what pleases me the most.

"They listen to what we have to say in our training sessions and, in games, 99 times out of 100 they show it.

"I'm proud of them. We're on a great run of form but they don't get carried away and don't let what other people say worry them. They just concentrate on each game."

Ferguson, who had a spell as Blackpool's caretaker boss as well as a dugout stint at Clyde, has hailed his squad as the "best group" he's worked with in a coaching capacity.

But he knows they'll face a tough test against a Bonnyrigg side that reached the fourth round of this season's Scottish Cup, whose achievements he reckons have been "brilliant" for the Lowland League.

"I'm a big believer that, if you put the work in, you'll get your rewards, and we've got our rewards so far," Ferguson continued.

"We're in a place where a lot of clubs would like to be at this stage of the season.

"Ourselves and Bonnyrigg have worked ever so hard to get to where we are, and we deserve to be where we are, so it should be a really good game.

"We've had to dig some results out this season and so have Bonnyrigg. It's a really tough league, with a lot of good teams in it, and there are some very good players playing in it.

"We hope that there will be a big crowd and that it's a great spectacle. It'll be two good teams going for each other, and whoever turns up will get the three points.

"I just hope it's my boys!"

The match at New Central Park kicks off at 3pm, with admission £7 for adults and £4 concessions.

l Saturday's fixtures (2.30pm kick-off unless stated): Lowland League – Kelty Hearts v Bonnyrigg Rose (3pm). East of Scotland League, Premier Division – Crossgates Primrose v Penicuik Athletic. First Division, Conference A – Leith Athletic v Oakley United (3pm). Conference B – Hawick Royal Albert v Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts.