Kelty Hearts 1, St Johnstone 2.

Betfred Cup Group C

AN historic night at New Central Park and the home team did themselves proud against the first SPFL Premiership side to come to Kelty.

It took the Perth Saints a long time to wear down the Lowland League champions and even after the visitors took a two goal lead by the hour mark Hearts kept probing away and were rewarded with a late goal.

At another time there would have been a big crowd at the ground for this historic occasion but alas Covid-19 assured a rather eerie atmosphere with no no fans allowed to see the game live although it was streamed out to eager supporters.

Hearts opened well against a team that has found points hard to come by in the early stages of the Premiership this season, but it was Saints' Scott Tanser who forced the Kelty defence to be on the alert to block a 20 yarder.

Kelty kept building up some nice moves but clear chances were at a premium in the game and it was the half hour before St Johnstone went close again with a Jason Kerr header wide from close in following a corner.

Then at the other end, three minutes from the break, Cammy Russell fired in a left foot shot from inside the box which was saved by the diving Parish.

Then with seconds to go before the interval whistle St Johnstone took the lead. Craig Conway's cross was perfect for Jason KERR who power his header past Darren Jamieson from the middle of the penalty area.

Saints, buoyed by going in front, started the second period well and in 52 minutes Jamieson saved well from Callum Hendry and three minutes after, the 'keeper did well to grab Shaun Rooney's effort and then the McDiarmid Park man fired in a header which forced the Hearts' 'keeper into a fine save.

Kelty went up the other end and Dylan Easton had a chance and his 19 yarder flew just wide.

On the hour St Johnstone extended their lead when Callum Hendry nodded a ball on and Chris KANE headed home from the middle of the box.

There was no giving in from Hearts and in 71 minutes they pulled one back when Kallum Higginbotham supplied Michael TIDSER and the former Morton man sent a fine left foot 20 yarder wide of Parish.

That was not the end of the action and with 13 minutes left a free-kick created the opening for Jason Kerr Kerr header's to hit the Hearts' bar.

Over all a very good performance from Kelty against a Premiership club.

Kelty Hearts: Jamieson; Stevenson, Boyle; Reid, Hooper, Reilly; Higginbotham, Tidser, Russell (Flynn 62), Easton (McNab 82), Philp.

St Johnstone: Parish; Rooney, Booth; Gordon, Kerr, Craig (Bryson 70); Conway (Davidson 81), Wotherspoon, Kane, Hendry (May 90), Tanser.

Referee- Alan Newlands.