Scottish League Two - Play-off Final - 2nd Leg
BrechinBrechin City0Kelty HeartsKelty Hearts1

Brechin City 0-1 Kelty Hearts (agg 1-3): Barry Ferguson's side reach League 2 and send Brechin down

By Tyrone SmithBBC Scotland Sport at Glebe Park
Kelty Hearts celebrate
Kelty Hearts are heading to the SPFL for the first time

Kelty Hearts completed a 3-1 aggregate win to seal their place in the SPFL for the first time and end Brechin City's 67-year stay in the top leagues.

Michael Tidser's late goal gave Barry Ferguson's side a 1-0 win at Glebe Park in which both sides ended with 10 men.

Home striker Christopher McKee was sent off for alleged foul and abusive language that match officials confirmed was of a homophobic nature.

Kelty sealed their win despite Scott Hooper's late dismissal.

The former Annan Athletic defender was sent off for the Lowland League champions, who will take Brechin's place in League 2 next season, following a foul on Rory Currie.

That came after Nathan Austin had hit the frame of the Brechin goal and Ross Philp had been denied by home goalkeeper David Hutton.

Michael Tidser scores
Michael Tidser made it 3-1 on aggregate to Kelty Hearts

A Kallum Higginbotham shot was an early statement of Kelty's intent, but the hosts, who were being cheered on by 250 home fans, grew in confidence during a fiercely competitive first half.

Player-manager Michael Paton curled a long-range effort just wide before a powerful Bobby Barr shot forced a good save from goalkeeper Darren Jamieson.

Dylan Easton's ball in was met by Dougie Hill, but his back post header was held on the line by home goalkeeper David Hutton.

Brechin were reduced to 10 men just before the break. Kelty's Dylan Easton went down under a challenge from Kieran Inglis and, while he was receving treatment, referee Craig Napier showed McKee a straight red card.

The visitors were denied by the woodwork at the start of the second half, Austin's shot from close range rebounding back off the post.

Ferguson's side went close again when Philp fired straight at Hutton from 10 yards and then went even closer moments later when his deflected shot was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper's foot.

Despite being depleted themselves with seven minutes remaining, the visitors' pressure eventually paid off as full-time approached, Andy Rodgers laying off for Tidser to smashed into the net from 15 yards.

One era ends as another begins

Brechin became part of the Scottish Football League in 1954 and had remained part of the senior game ever since, through the reorganisation that led to the SPFL in 2013.

They were in the second tier as recently as 2018 but failed to win a single game in the Championship and successive relegations have been followed by two seasons in a row as the 42nd placed club in the SPFL.

No play-offs took place after the 2019-20 campaign was curtailed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but Scottish football's governing bodies deemed that this season's staging would go ahead, despite Brechin's protests.

Beaten Pyramid Play-off semi-finalists Brora Rangers had played only three games before being declared champions of this season's curtailed Highland League and Kelty Hearts were confirmed Lowland League winners after playing 13.

And, 46 years on from being founded, former Fife juniors Kelty will become one of Scotland's senior clubs, with Brechin expected to join the Highland League.

For former Scotland and Rangers captain Ferguson, it is a return to senior club management after an earlier spell with Clyde.

'People thought I was crazy' - reaction

Brechin City player-manager Michael Paton: "I felt we were the better team all over the park, even when we went down to 10 men. We've really had the luck against us. It was an uphill battle, but I can't fault the effort levels from every player that was on that park when we went to 10 men.

"Gutted because of the end result where the club is going to be but proud in terms of the effort levels that my team showed from start to finish. The club is too good a club to be in the position it's in. This club will bounce back, maybe better, maybe bigger, maybe stronger."

Bob Malcolm and Barry Ferguson
Barry Ferguson, pictured embracing assistant Bob Malcolm, joined Kelty in 2018

Kelty Hearts manager Barry Ferguson: "I'm absolutely delighted for the group of boys I've brought together. I've been lucky enough to win a lot of trophies in my playing career, but this is up there - leading a club into the SPFL. Horrendous game, but all that matters is Kelty are an SPFL club.

"It's a crazy journey. A lot of people thought I was crazy when I made the decision to go down [to the Lowland League] 33 months ago. I knew if I was going to be given the tools to go and build a team to challenge for the Lowland League, I believed I had a real good chance of going and winning that."

Line-ups

Brechin

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Hutton
  • 2McIntosh
  • 6Page
  • 15JordanSubstituted forPatonat 74'minutes
  • 12Reekie
  • 11Osman
  • 18McKeeBooked at 41mins
  • 8Inglis
  • 10BarrBooked at 18minsSubstituted forMcLevyat 90'minutes
  • 7CoupeSubstituted forCurrieat 62'minutes
  • 20Paton

Substitutes

  • 5Bollan
  • 9Currie
  • 17Paton
  • 19O'Neil
  • 21O'Connor
  • 22McLevy
  • 23Slaven

Kelty Hearts

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Jamieson
  • 2Reid
  • 4HooperBooked at 84mins
  • 5Hill
  • 3Boyle
  • 6Reilly
  • 8Tidser
  • 11Philp
  • 7HigginbothamBooked at 75mins
  • 10EastonSubstituted forRodgersat 81'minutesBooked at 82mins
  • 9AustinSubstituted forRussellat 70'minutesSubstituted forMcNabat 87'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Flynn
  • 14Rodgers
  • 15McNab
  • 16Russell
  • 17Stevenson
  • 18Scobbie
  • 21Donaldson
Referee:
Craig Napier
Attendance:
250

Match Stats

Home TeamBrechinAway TeamKelty Hearts
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home6
Away14
Shots on Target
Home2
Away5
Corners
Home7
Away3
Fouls
Home17
Away11

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Brechin City 0, Kelty Hearts 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Brechin City 0, Kelty Hearts 1.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Brechin City. Conceded by Patrick Boyle.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Kieran Inglis (Brechin City).

  5. Post update

    Kallum Higginbotham (Kelty Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Post update

    Michael Tidser (Kelty Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Abdul Osman (Brechin City).

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Brechin City. Ewan McLevy replaces Bobby Barr because of an injury.

  9. Goal!

    Goal! Brechin City 0, Kelty Hearts 1. Michael Tidser (Kelty Hearts) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Andy Rodgers.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Kelty Hearts. Robbie McNab replaces Cameron Russell.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Kieran Inglis (Brechin City).

  12. Post update

    Thomas Reilly (Kelty Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Dismissal

    Scott Hooper (Kelty Hearts) is shown the red card for violent conduct.

  14. Post update

    Rory Currie (Brechin City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Scott Hooper (Kelty Hearts).

  16. Post update

    Foul by Kieran Inglis (Brechin City).

  17. Post update

    Cameron Russell (Kelty Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Booking

    Andy Rodgers (Kelty Hearts) is shown the yellow card.

  19. Post update

    Kieran Inglis (Brechin City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Dangerous play by Andy Rodgers (Kelty Hearts).

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