KELTY HEARTS 2 Brechin City 1

KELTY HEARTS are 90 minutes away from a place in the SPFL for the first time in their history after victory over Brechin City in their SPFL pyramid play-off final first leg tonight.

First half goals from Kallum Higginbotham and Cammy Russell, either side of Jonathan Page's equaliser, leaves Barry Ferguson's team in the driving seat ahead of Sunday's second leg.

It was a well earned win for the hosts, who started brightly and deservedly led before working hard to restrict the Angus side.

Kelty had further opportunities, but Barry Ferguson - and the 250 home fans inside the ground - will be happy with the outcome.

The home side made a bright start at a sun-drenched New Central Park, with former Par, David Hutton, busy in the City goal early on.

He did well to palm away a dangerous Dylan Easton centre and, as Paddy Boyle soon sent the ball back into the box, he was there to save Higginbotham's header.

Ross Philp did well to turn and shoot at the edge of the box, only to see his shot finis off target, as the hosts pressed - which brought rewards in the 16th minute.

Austin, an ever willing runner, raced on to a long pass down the left and fired a shot towards goal.

Hutton did well to save but he could only parry and Higginbotham, after picking it up just inside the area, found the space to find the far corner.

It was no more than Ferguson's men deserved but, midway through the half, the visitors were level.

Bobby Barr's corner was played low to the edge of the box and, in untidy fashion, ex-Dunfermline defender Page flicked the ball towards goal and beyond Darren Jamieson.

Thomas Reilly then tested Hutton from range as Kelty looked to respond, and skipper Michael Tidser was soon not too far away with a 25-yard free-kick.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, the hosts regained the lead.

It was a wonderful free-flowing move that eventual saw Russell, sent on in place of the injured Jamie Stevenson 26 minutes in, played in on goal, and he showed great composure to tuck a left-footer under Hutton.

That goal would've been a relief for Ferguson's side and, immediately after the restart, Hutton produced a good save from old Dunfermline team-mate Higginbotham, who hit a well-struck shot from range.

At the other end, though, Jamieson proved his worth with a vital stop to deny Kieran Inglis, who had done well to wriggle his way into the area and shoot.

Both Philp and Austin had no luck with efforts as the second period became more even and hard-fought, while Jamieson comfortably saved a Barr effort from range.

With the clock ticking into the final 10 minutes, Austin saw a free-kick deflected, with Easton unable to force it home from close range, before he almost moved in on goal after latching on to Russell's header, only to slip at the final moment.

However, Kelty saw it out to take a valuable advantage to Glebe Park on Sunday.

Kelty Hearts: Jamieson, Stevenson (Russell 26), Boyle, Hooper, Reid, Reilly, Higginbotham, Ridder, Austin, Easton, Philp.

Subs not used: Flynn, Rodgers, McNab, Hill, Scobbie, Donaldson.

Goals: Higginbotham (16), Russell (45).

Brechin City: 

Hutton, McIntosh, Page, Coupe, Inglis, Currie (Slaven 76) , Barr (McLevy 90), Osman, Reekie, Hussain (Jordan 35), McKee.

Subs: Bollan, Paton, Devine, O'Neil.

Goal: Page (22).

Referee: Gavin Duncan.