CRAIG JOHNSTON has admitted that he would have traded his goal for three points after Kelty Hearts were held to a draw by Annan Athletic.

The 28-year-old netted his first league goal for his hometown club to give Michael Tidser's the lead against their newly-promoted opponents, but Aidan Smith's equaliser gave the visitors a deserved point.

Despite a first half which, by both Johnston and assistant manager Kevin McDonald's own admission, was flat by the home side, they spurned a golden chance to lead when Botti Biabi saw a penalty saved by former Dunfermline goalkeeper, Greg Fleming.

When they did go in front during a much-improved second half performance, Kelty had opportunities to put the game to bed, but their failure to take them left both Johnston and McDonald frustrated at time-up.

"We were miles off it in the first half. I'm not going to lie; they were the better team," Johnston said.

"There was a few words (at half-time) but you stick together, come out second half, turn it around a wee bit to start, but we end up coming away with one point instead of three.

"We needed a reaction - we demand that from ourselves - and it was good for to get on the scoresheet, but it's more frustrating.

"I'd rather have gone home with three points without a goal, than one point with a goal."

McDonald noted: "Annan were good. A draw was probably a fair result in the end I think, but when you go 1-0 up, you're disappointed to lose the three points because I thought, at that point, it was probably the only time in the game we had control.

"We had a few chances to go two maybe - Botti missed a chance in the six-yard box - so it's a little bit disappointing, but I definitely think a draw's a fair result."

Kelty had been looking to bounce back from their late defeat to Stirling Albion - a game that McDonald felt they deserved more from - against an Annan team who picked up their first points since promotion to League One by beating Edinburgh City in their previous game.

History favoured Kelty pre-match - in six league and cup meetings, they had only been beaten once - but Peter Murphy's side impressed in the opening period.

Josh Dixon and Benjamin Luissint both flashed efforts wide of target, whilst the home side lost Lewis Moore to a suspected hamstring problem in only the 17th minute, to be replaced by Tiwi Daramola.

On-loan Dundee United midfielder, Lewis O'Donnell, had Kelty's first effort, with a shot that was comfortably held by Fleming, before they had the chance to score from the spot.

Johnston played Biabi in with a fine pass but, although goalkeeper Fleming did well to race off his line and block, he felled Johnston as the ball ran loose.

Despite furious protests from the Annan players, referee, George Calder, awarded the penalty, but Biabi's kick was kept out brilliantly by a strong arm from Fleming, who guessed correctly and dived to his right.

Tommy Goss almost immediately headed wide for the visitors, with Reece Lyon unfortunate to shoot off-target for Kelty before the break, while Biabi was unfortunate not to force the ball home following a huge scramble inside the six-yard box early in the second half.

The opening goal, however, did arrive just after the hour mark when Biabi played Johnston in on goal, and he made no mistake with a clinical finish for his fourth strike in maroon since joining from Montrose in the summer.

Dunfermline Press: Johnston and his team-mates celebrate his opener for Kelty.Johnston and his team-mates celebrate his opener for Kelty. (Image: David Wardle.)

Substitute, Ross Cunningham, curled over for Kelty as they sought a second goal but, after Goss and substitute James Graham came close, Annan levelled with 12 minutes to go.

Graham led a swift break upfield on the right-hand side and, after good work with Finlay Cross-Adair, he swept a ball across the six-yard box that Smith finished well from close range at the far post to ensure a share of the spoils.

"We missed a penalty in the first half as well, but I think first half we were really, really poor, and we were really flat," McDonald conceded.

"Football, when you start so low down, it's really hard to change that momentum, and I think the lads did to be fair. We got a wee reaction off them.

"I thought Ross Cunningham gave us a spark when he came on second half, the shape looked a bit better, and we got our goal. Again, we're just a little bit sloppy, and we're disappointed with how we lost the goal as well because we were a bit stretched when we didn't need to be."

Dunfermline Press: Aidan Smith nets Annan's equaliser.Aidan Smith nets Annan's equaliser. (Image: David Wardle.)

Johnston added: "The boys are disappointed. We're at home, 1-0 up, and we should be looking to take three points out of that. They end up getting a goal back and we come away with a draw, so we're all disappointed that we've not taken three points from the game.

"We didn't feel ourselves to be fair, but I still thought we had enough chances to win it. We didn't take them, and then they go and score and equalise.

"It was a poor first half and we know that, but we turned it around, get in front, and then to lose a sloppy goal is just frustrating.

"We're 20 yards from the corner flag, in our attacking half, and they've managed to score from there, so it's quite a poor one to lose, and you go from three points to one."

Kelty Hearts: Gourlay, Corbett, O'Ware, Thomson, Walker, Lyon, Tidser (B. Owens 86), O'Donnell (Cunningham 57), Biabi, Johnston, Moore (Daramola 17).

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

Goal: Johnston (62).

Booked: O'Donnell (40).

Annan Athletic: Fleming, Gibson, Kilsby, Hooper, Douglas, Dixon (Johnston 86), Luissint, Docherty (Hunter 72), Smith, Goss (Cross-Adair 72), Galloway (Graham 45).

Subs not used: Mitchell, Muir, Campbell, Nugent.

Goal: Smith (78).

Booked: Docherty (29), Luissint (31).

Referee: George Calder.

Attendance: 346.