WEST FIFE’S non-league football clubs are set to return to action this weekend following the festive period and Kelty Hearts are looking for the gift of a Scottish Cup third round tie.

The reigning Lowland League champions, and current league leaders, will take to the field for the first time since Boxing Day when SPFL League Two outfit Stranraer come calling on Saturday.

Since leaving junior football for the East of Scotland League, which they won promotion from in their first season, and the senior pyramid in 2017, the men in maroon have never progressed beyond the second round.

A first preliminary round defeat to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale was followed by a narrow exit by the odd goal in five to Peterhead in 2018 – just two days after Barry Ferguson was appointed – and, last season, by a 3-0 first-round home defeat to Auchinleck Talbot.

But Kelty, who lead BSC Glasgow by six points at the Lowland League summit, are in fine form, having won nine successive matches in all competitions, netting 30 goals and conceding just two.

Wih their last two league fixtures both called off, Kelty’s last game was the 2-1 win over Jeanfield Swifts in the previous round, and they face a Stranraer team that are third in League Two.

The Blues have also yet to be beaten on the road this season, and are unbeaten in their last 10 games.

Reaching round three would provide the chance of a tie with Premiership opposition, two of which Kelty faced in Dundee United and St Johnstone in this season’s Betfred Cup group stage, and, speaking to Kelty Hearts TV ahead of the Jeanfield tie, skipper Michael Tidser said: “We’re on a good run of form just now.

“I think, probably, the East Kilbride game has maybe been the only setback that we’ve had. When you win games of football, it’s enjoyable. The boys are playing well.”

Ahead of the game, the club last night (Wednesday) announced the signing of veteran East Stirlingshire forward Andy Rodgers.

The 37-year-old, who began his career with hometown club Falkirk, has turned out for clubs such as Dumbarton, Montrose, Ayr United and Peterhead in the SPFL during his career.

Rodgers was in his second permanent spell with the Shire, where he was working alongside manager Derek Ure in a player/assistant manager capacity.

Despite recently equalling their all-time goalscoring record, Kelty's league rivals announced on Monday that he had left the club, allowing Ferguson to pounce.

A statement on Kelty's website read: "Kelty Hearts have signed East Stirlingshire all time Record Goalscorer Andy Rodgers.

"Andy has been a consistent performer and goalscorer in the Lowland League since 2016 after a very successful career in the SPFL where he won leagues with both Falkirk and Peterhead.

"Andy, who scored over 100 SPFL goals in his time with Falkirk, Dumbarton, Montrose, Ayr United, Stenhousemuir and Peterhead, is currently the Lowland Leagues 3rd top scorer with 8 goals in only 8 starts this season.

"Our squad has been stretched the past few months with injuries and with a very busy and testing schedule lying ahead in the next 20 weeks which will bring three games a week, its a very good addition to the squad at the right time. Welcome to New Central Park Andy."

Meanwhile, in the East of Scotland League, Crossgates Primrose, Inverkeithing Hillfield Swifts, Oakley United and Rosyth are all scheduled to play their first fixtures of 2021.

Primrose, 15th in the 18-team Premier League, host bottom side Whitehill Welfare at Humbug Park, whilst second-bottom Swifts take on Musselburgh Athletic at Ballast Bank.

The games, like all others, are behind closed doors, kick-off at 2pm and Inverkeithing, promoted last year, head into it still looking for their first home win of the campaign.

In Conference A of the First Division, Rosyth hope to play their first game since December 12 at home to Dalkeith Thistle (2.30pm), while Oakley United are due to travel to Kinnoull in Conference B (2pm).

Kelty are streaming their tie live from 3pm. For details, visit the club’s website at www.keltyhearts.co.uk.