Kelty Hearts 2 Alloa Athletic 1

MICHAEL TIDSER believes that his Kelty Hearts stars are showing optimism and energy on the pitch after they earned a first-ever win over Alloa Athletic on Saturday.

Ross Cunningham's brace either side of half-time, despite Cameron O'Donnell's superb late free-kick in reply, gave the 'Maroon Machine' all three points at New Central Park.

It was a deserved victory for player/boss Tidser and his men, who had the better of the chances until a flurry from the Wasps in the final 10 minutes.

After losing twice, and drawing twice, with Brian Rice's team last season, this victory was the ideal way to respond to being defeated by Hamilton Academical the week prior, and keeps up an encouraging start to the campaign for Kelty.

Despite not reaching the last 16, they emerged from their Viaplay Cup group with plenty of credit, following wins over Edinburgh City and Stranraer, a pulsating 3-3 draw at top flight Ross County, and a defeat to Greenock Morton, in which Kelty played well for a substantial period.

They've now won two of their opening three League One games, which is in sharp contrast to last season, when it took them six matches to chalk up their first victory.

"It was a big turnover. I hate going back to it, but we're still gelling and still getting to know each other," Tidser said.

"It doesn't take two, three, four weeks. Sometimes it can take weeks.

"They're a great bunch of boys, I love their spirit around training. They're always optimistic and energetic.

"That's what I ask. I demand it off them, and they're starting to show it on the park.

"It's a long season, I just want to find that consistency. We can't be up there and then down there, we need to find a middle ground."

Tidser made two changes to his team that started against Hamilton, with left back Jamie Walker - absent since the Morton match with injury - returning for Billy Owens, whilst Cunningham was promoted from the bench in place of Tiwi Daramola.

Although it took the contest a while to spark into life, it was Kelty who had the best opportunities in the opening period.

Adam Corbett headed over the bar, and Stefan McCluskey was off target from Walker's centre, before Alloa keeper PJ Morrison produced a fine block to deny Craig Johnston.

Seven minutes before the break, however, the home side did break the deadlock - and it came from the penalty spot.

Morgyn Neill, who was substituted soon afterwards, felled Johnston just inside the area and, despite his protests, Cunningham stepped up to confidently slot home his first league goal of the season.

That seemed to rattle the Wasps, who needed Morrison to react quickly off his line to prevent Johnston latching onto a long ball, before he was unfortunate to scoop over from a low Corbett cross.

Rice's team, though, had a great chance of their own soon after the break when Luke Donnelly was thwarted by Kelty keeper, Kyle Gourlay, but they survived strong appeals for a penalty when Reece Lyon's header was blocked by Euan Deveney.

A second goal was coming and it duly arrived just after the hour mark.

Lewis Moore was the creator, finding space on the left before pulling it back for Cunningham, who sent a first time effort from just inside the box beyond Morrison for his fourth goal of the season so far.

Kelty were pretty comfortable until the final 10 minutes, when Alloa upped the ante in search of a route back into the game.

Bradley Rodden headed wide when he should have hit the target, and Stefan Scougall sent a speculative effort onto the roof of the net, before O'Donnell, with a fine free-kick from around 20-25 yards out, lashed home in stoppage time.

It wasn't enough, however, to deny Kelty, and Tidser continued: "The conditions are a bit tough here.

"I thought, first half, we were patient in our play. They sat off us a bit, so it had to be slow build-up at times then that quick pass to get in behind.

"We were good in the first half without creating anything but then we get the penalty, which I thought was one, to be fair, and Rossco sticks it away.

"Second half, I knew it would be a different game with the wind and our second goal is really good play; a lovely cutback from Moorey, and a great finish from Rossco again.

"We're disappointed to lose the goal at the end. Someitmes you have to just hold your hands up, the boy puts it right in the stanchion.

"That's probably my only gripe; silly fouls in the final third for them. Other than that, I'm really pleased for the lads. I asked them for a reaction after last week and I thought they showed that.

"I'm pleased to get other boys on the park as well and keep the squad nice and fresh.

"I said that to the lads before the game, that I knew they would be physical. They've got good players.

"I'll be honest, I thought they would have come out more inn the first half and try to get at us.

"It surprised me a wee bit, but that's not for me to comment on.

"I thought our boys showed a bit of character to get the second goal. As you saw last season, which I don't like to dwell on, we couldn't get their number. I'm really pleased we managed to get three points today."

Goalscorer Cunningham added: "I think it's a good result first and foremost.

"Alloa are a good team. They're good at what they do, they're physical, so I thought for the 90 minutes we matched that, and to win 2-1 is decent. To score two goals, I'm delighted with that as well."

Match stats:

Kelty Hearts: Gourlay, Corbett, Walker, O'Ware, Thomson, Lyon, Johnston (Biabi 80), Cunningham (O'Donnell 80), McCluskey (Daramola 77), Tidser, Moore.

Subs not used: Owens, Owens, Cameron, Campbell.

Goal: Cunningham (38, pen, 61).

Booked: Lyon (26), O'Ware (56).

Alloa Athletic: Morrison, Deveney (O'Donnell 60), Donnelly (Rodden 77), Hetherington, Scougall, Coulson (Sammon 60), Taggart, Neill (Graham 41), Roberts, Debayo.

Subs not used: Ogayi, Buchanan, Cannon, Rankine, Devine.

Goal: O'Donnell (90).

Booked: Neill (39), Debayo (42), Deveney (58), Graham (64), Roberts (70), O'Donnell (88).

Referee: Duncan Williams.

Attendance: 370.