Kelty Hearts will improve for Brechin City play-off as scouts watch romp against Brora Rangers

Brechin City’s scouting team will have left New Central Park on Saturday fairly concerned about Kelty Hearts’ propensity to steal their place in the Scottish Professional Football League.

Kelty Hearts forward Nathan Austin celebrates his hat-trick against Brora Rangers.

The increasing worry would be that the Fife side can only improve, with the pyramid play-off final first leg not due until a week on Tuesday.

Kelty, the Lowland League champions, went four months without competitive action before beating Highland League winners Brora Rangers. Saturday’s 4-1 win completed a 6-1 aggregate, with striker Nathan Austin scoring a perfect hat-trick in addition to Dylan Easton’s volley.

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Despite not being fully fit, Austin was unstoppable in attack. He is convinced Barry Ferguson’s side will be sharper and fitter before confronting the SPFL’s ‘Club 42’.

“I think we can improve a lot. We will be straight back on the training ground next week working hard. It’s enjoyable to be in a team that’s won 6-1 on aggregate but we’ve not played anywhere near as good as we can,” said the Englishman.

“We will hopefully be better against Brechin. We can definitely improve. Those were our first competitive games in over four months so we can definitely get better.

“We played them in the Betfred Cup so they know what we are about. They could watch the highlights but they’ve sent boys here to watch us. We will take it as it comes. Brechin are going to be really tough. It will be a battle but hopefully we come out on top.”

The fact these play-offs are taking place is a relief. Brechin petitioned the SPFL that it would be “fundamentally unfair” to hold them after escaping last year when the pyramid was closed by the SPFL without proper consultation with those in leagues below.

“It’s massively important. I think it’s been a little bit mis-read what Kelty Hearts are all about,” explained Austin. “We just wanted the chance to play Brora and then Brechin. If we get beaten by Brechin then it’s fair and square. We’ve had our chance to go up.

“But the thought of it being taken away from us and not getting the chance to play the play-offs did not make a lot of sense to a lot of the boys.

“For a lot of players who play in the Lowland Leagues, the cherry on top is the play-offs. It’s the chance to play in big games like this and to get promoted. We are getting our chance now and hopefully we can take it. If we don’t take it, we have still had our chance and we can’t really complain about it.”

With Brora 2-0 down from the first leg, Greg Morrison gave the visitors the lead through Saturday’s rain. Austin equalised with his right foot and then scored an exquisite glancing header after the break. A sumptuous left-footed free-kick completed his treble before Easton’s impressive fourth.

“I’m an apprentice electrician and I was at my college block during the week there,” said Austin. “I had to take time off [for the first leg at Brora] so I had to catch up during the week and I could not make training on Thursday. It’s tough but when you get days like this it’s all worth it.”

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Nathan Austin's hat-trick helps Kelty Hearts thump Brora Rangers to set up SPFL ...

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