A PLAYING return has been almost six months in the waiting but some of West Fife's clubs were back on the pitch on Saturday.

Football was suspended in March due to coronavirus but, after getting the green light from the authorities, Kelty Hearts, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Oakley United and Rosyth were all in friendly action.

And, for three of the four, the closed-doors return ended in victory as the non-league clubs step up their preparations for the scheduled big league kick-off next month.

Reigning Lowland League champions Kelty hosted Tynecastle at New Central Park before taking on Musselburgh Athletic on Tuesday evening.

Barry Ferguson's side ran out convincing 6-1 winners in their opener, which saw star striker Nathan Austin pick up from where he left off last season with a hat-trick, and former Pars winger Kallum Higginbotham strike twice on his debut.

Austin opened his account with a neat finish after latching on to a through ball, before converting a penalty and from close range at a corner before the break.

A second spot-kick was then chipped home by Higginbotham for 4-0 and, although Tynecastle pulled one back, the Englishman again netted from 12 yards before defender Craig Reid added Kelty's sixth.

They followed that by defeating Musselburgh 3-0, thanks to goals from new signing Dougie Hill, Ross Philp and Matthew Flynn.

Inverkeithing, who will play in the East of Scotland Premier Division for the first time, entertained Kinross Colts Amateurs and finished 3-2 winners.

After falling two goals behind, Charlie Simpson reduced the deficit before half-time then a Shay Brough double completed the comeback.

Boss Grant Brough said: "It took us a bit to get into it, probably about half an hour, but we found our feet and it was just good to be back."

Oakley United, who will be in Conference B of the First Division, defeated East Region juniors' Syngenta 1-0 at Blairwood Park, and manager Stewart Kenny commented: "It was a good result but, in my honest opinion, and I don't think you'll hear many comparisons like this, it was like 22 players returning from long-term injury.

"Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of positives from the game, so I can't complain. The boys have come back in good shape which is a massive plus from my point of view."

Rosyth, who will play in Conference A in what is their maiden East of Scotland League season after leaving the juniors, lost 2-0 at Whitburn Juniors before travelling to Cupar Hearts on Tuesday night.

A changed side lost 5-0 and boss Brian Muirhead, whose team play Crossgates on Saturday, said of the Whitburn match: "They're decent; it was a pretty even game to be fair.

"It was a good workout. It was a good game and I enjoyed it actually.

"I just thought we tired after about 70-80 minutes. If it was a league game, I'd be going daft, but because it was just a friendly, it was all about seeing how the guys reacted, what their touch was like, how their desire was."

This Saturday, Kelty play Airdrieonians at New Central Park; Inverkeithing take on Kinnoull; and Oakley face Fallin Amateurs.

All matches are behind closed doors.