Kelty Hearts will kick-off their first Lowland League season this afternoon with a home match against Dalbeattie Star. The Fifers will unfurl the East of Scotland Championship flag before the game, and will open their new seated stand for the first time.
After a hugely successful first season as a senior club, winning the East of Scotland League and beating Threave Rovers in the Lowland League Play-off to gain promotion at the first attempt, Tam Courts side will be full of confidence going into the new season. But they will be aware that the Lowland League will be a step up in class from last season and teams such as East Kilbride, BSC Glasgow, East Stirlingshire and current champions Spartans, will present a tougher challenge.
Despite finishing third from bottom last season, Dalbeattie have had a decent pre-season, scoring 5 on two occasions and 6 on another as well as beating Beath Juniors, and will be keen to avoid an opening day defeat on their trip to Fife. The borders side have added a host of new faces to their squad and will be looking to spoil the opening day celebrations for Kelty.
Kelty themselves have enjoyed a solid pre-season programme, with wins against Cowdenbeath, Dunfermline and Brora Rangers balancing out defeats to Elgin, Celtic and Linlithgow in their build up matches. Courts has added four new faces to his side, with this week's signing of Ciaren Chalmers from Selkirk adding to the earlier captures of Willis Hare from LTHV and brothers Chris & Matt Gay from Kennoway.
Kelty are likely to be without their talismanic centre-half Sean O'Neil, and with Garry Leighton also missing from the matchday squad, striker Errol Douglas could once again be drafted in as an emergency defender. Captain Shaun Greig will also be absent having missed most of pre-season recovering from injury.
With no SPFL fixtures this week, Kelty will be hoping for a big home crowd to help them get their campaign off to a flying start. The match at New Central Park, Bath Street, Kelty kicks off at 3pm on Saturday 28 July.