MICHAEL TIDSER believes his Kelty Hearts squad have made great strides in a short period but insists this weekend is where it matters.

The New Central Park player / manager hailed his team’s “great” performance at Premiership Ross County in the Viaplay Cup last Saturday, which saw them fight back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to draw a six-goal thriller, before winning a bonus point penalty shoot-out.

League One Kelty travelled to Dingwall still with an outside chance of qualification for the last 16 of the competition, having beaten Edinburgh City and Stranraer following defeat to Tidser’s former club, Greenock Morton, in their Group D opener.

The Staggies held a 100 per cent record from their first three games but, despite bringing that to an end, the ‘Maroon Machine’ finished third in the section, with County progressing as group winners, and the ‘Ton going through as one of three best runners-up.

Josh Sims and Simon Murray put Malky Mackay’s hosts two up after half-an-hour but, after Stefan McCluskey pulled one back before half-time, the returning striker Botti Biabi levelled for Kelty early in the second half.

Although James Brown appeared to win it for County with four minutes left, a penalty, won by Biabi, allowed Ross Cunningham to equalise, taking the game into a shoot-out to determine who would win the bonus point.

Biabi netted the decisive goal from the spot as the visitors took it 4-3, and Tidser told Times Sport: “The boys were great on Saturday.

“We’ve gone toe-to-toe with a Premiership side and got the bonus point. It was just a shame we didn’t go through because we had a good wee cup run there, in terms of the three, four games.

“It’s a good start but it counts for nothing. The real stuff starts this week, and I emphasised that to them at the weekend.

“We have to take the positives from it. On Saturday, it took us 25-30 minutes to settle ourselves down, which we were then a goal behind, and then they scored a second.

“But, I said this to you a couple of weeks ago, there’s just something in the group. I can’t really put my finger on it – I don’t know if it comes from me, or comes from within – but they don’t seem to stop. They don’t give in.

“We’ve got goalscorers all over the park so we know that if we get a chance, and take it, we’re straight back in the game. That proved to be the case on Saturday.”

All focus now turns to Saturday’s League One opener at Montrose, and Tidser continued: “We’ve come a long way in such a short space of time.

“We’re not going to shout from the rooftops, because I know how quickly football changes, but in terms of how we’ve started and what I’m seeing, I’m really pleased.

“If we can just keep adding to that, and building momentum, hopefully that can take us into the league.

“I would never come out and say we should be doing this, or we should be doing that, because football bites you in the backside pretty quickly.

“Internally, we’ve spoken to staff and said what would be a successful season for us, and where we want to try and get to, but we’ll keep that in the office and speak to the players about.”