Lowland League: Kelty Hearts 3 Bonnyrigg Rose 2

LEADERS Kelty Hearts earned what could prove to be a pivotal win in the Lowland League title race after a five-goal thriller with Bonnyrigg Rose on Saturday.

First-half goals from Ross Philp, Dylan Easton and Nathan Austin proved decisive for Barry Ferguson's side, who moved six points clear of their second-top opponents, having played a game more.

Victory also saw the men in maroon create a new league record run of 20 games unbeaten in a single season, with 19 of them ending in victory.

The huge crowd of 1,510 was treated to a thrilling 90 minutes and Kelty went ahead on 17 minutes.

Michael Tidser's deep cross from the left found Stephen Husband at the far post and, although his header was saved by Mark Weir, he reacted quickest to cut the ball back for Philp to tap in his third goal in four games.

But, within 60 seconds, the hosts saw their lead wiped out when, after Tam Scobbie was penalised for a challenge on Kieran McGachie at the edge of the box, Lee Currie stepped up to curl the resultant free kick into the top corner of Ben Mackenzie's net.

Ferguson's side responded in style, however, in the 25th minute when Thomas Reilly passed the ball to Easton in midfield and, after moving away from his marker, sent an unstoppable shot from around 30 yards flying beyond Weir and into the top corner.

The hosts continued to press and, seven minutes from the break, they scored again.

Tidser was again the provider, sending another left-footed delivery into the area for top scorer Austin to attack, and he made no mistake with his header to score his 48th goal of an astonishing campaign.

Husband shot wide after the break as Kelty looked to put the game out of the visitors' reach but, just short of the hour mark, Bonnyrigg were back in it when neither Mackenzie nor defender Craig Reid dealt with McGachie's high ball, allowing George Hunter to lob it over the home goalkeeper.

Austin saw an excellent chance saved by Weir, while Mackenzie produced a superb stop to save a McGachie header as chances continued to be created at either end.

However, Kelty held out for victory, and leaving Ferguson delighted.

"I thought, first half, some of the stuff we played was a joy to watch," he told the club's video channel.

"The only thing I was probably upset with was that we never came in another goal or two up. We played with real energy, some of the passages of play were different class, and we scored three really good goals."

East of Scotland League First Division, Conference A: Leith Athletic 0 Oakley United 1

STEWART KENNY saluted his Oakley United players for carrying out their gameplan "to perfection" as they secured an impressive win at league leaders Leith Athletic.

Craig Martin's penalty five minutes after half-time proved decisive for the Blairwood Park side, who sit eighth in the table, and their boss was full of praise for their efforts.

"Playing against the team at the top of the league, going there we knew would be very tough, but we had a gameplan and they carried it out to perfection," Kenny said.

"We've been on at the boys about the need to be a bit more patient. We've been trying to drum into them about the need to build up play a bit slower than what they have been doing, and keep the ball a bit longer.

"They need to learn that clean sheets are a massive thing and that, if out of possession and in defence you're resolute, you'll give yourself a chance to stay in the game.

"We got our chance, scored the goal and it was well deserved. The guys were outstanding on Saturday.

"We gave as good as we got. We were more patient in our build-up, and the thing I noticed is that we played an extra two or three passes in midfield rather than trying to force the ball through to the strikers."

He continued: "Leith are a really good side and, when they came to Oakley, they did a number on us. They were outstanding that day.

"They are consistent and that's the level we need to get to but it's something to build on looking towards next season.

"As you can imagine, the boys were buzzing after the game, and the dressing room was lively. They deserved it."

Kenny strengthened his squad last month with the additions of Danny Walker, Mark Mooney and the returning James McAteer, and added: "We've brought two strikers in, Mark Mooney and James McAteer, and it's credit to the committee that we got the deal over the line.

"They are players that will hold the ball up and bring the midfield into play. Our building for next season starts now."

East of Scotland League First Division, Conference B: Hawick Royal Albert 0 Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts 5

FIVE-STAR Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts maintained their grip on second place with a fine win at Hawick Royal Albert.

The match was just 44 seconds old when Regan Lumsden curled home a free kick for Grant Brough's promotion-chasers but it took them until the second half to take the game away from the hosts.

Cai MacDonald made it 2-0 in the 65th minute and, five minutes later, Lumsden scored his second and Swifts' third.

He completed his treble four minutes from time and, in the closing moments, Cammy Liddell made it 5-0 with what Brough felt was the pick of his team's goals.

"In the last couple of weeks, our games have been cancelled, so it was good to get the boys back out on the park," he said..

"It was a case of going there and not being complacent. You could see they were really fired up but, once we scored the first goal, we took control."

With Tynecastle 20 points clear at the top, Swifts' focus is on finishing second, and they are four points clear of third-placed Glenrothes, but with a game in hand.

They face a break from the league this weekend, with a trip to Oakley in the League Cup first round, and Brough added: "There's a long way to go. We've got a lot of tough games ahead.

"The cup game at Oakley will give us a wee break and I'll probably mix it up a wee bit and give some a boys a wee opportunity that they've not had in the last wee while.

"We've got a good squad, with good players, some of whom maybe haven't played as many minutes as they would want.

"Saturday's an opportunity for them."

l Fixtures:– Tomorrow (Friday): SFA South Region Challenge Cup, quarter-final – BSC Glasgow v Kelty Hearts (7.45pm). Saturday's fixtures (kick-offs 2.30pm unless stated): East of Scotland League, League Cup, first round – Oakley United v Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts. Second round – Jeanfield Swifts v Crossgates Primrose. McBookie.com South Premier League – Syngenta v Rosyth.