Kelty Hearts 2 Alloa Athletic 1

TAM O'WARE was the hero for Kelty Hearts as they completed a comeback win over promotion play-off chasers Alloa Athletic to bolster their bid for League One survival.

The centre back, who returned to the club and team on Saturday, having departed in December to take up an interim coaching role with Queen's Park, prodded home with nine minutes to go seal a huge three points for Michael Tidser's side.

His goal, a first of the season, having not scored since January last year, came just seven minutes after on-loan Hamilton Academical striker, Joe McGlynn, had levelled for the hosts after Cameron O'Donnell's 56th minute opener for the Wasps.

It was a deserved win in the end for Kelty, who dominated the opening period, which also saw Lewis Moore crack the crossbar.

Tidser's men remain sixth in the table but have moved seven points clear of second bottom Annan Athletic, who they play on Saturday.

Andy Graham's Wasps, who have won seven of their last nine games, stay third, one point clear of third placed Montrose, and four above fifth-placed Cove Rangers.

The home side, looking to end a run of five successive defeats and move further clear of danger at the bottom of the table, made one change to the team that lost at home to Cove on Saturday.

On-loan Aberdeen forward, Alfie Bavidge, missed out due to being involved with Scotland's under-19s, with skipper Reece Lyon coming in.

The visitors, sitting third and looking to further cement a place in the promotion play-off places, arrived having won 5-2 at Edinburgh City, who have been relegated, at the weekend.

Boss Graham, whose team had won seven of their previous eight matches, made two changes to his line-up.

Bobby Wales, on loan from Kilmarnock, was also with Scotland's under-19s, whilst Quinn Coulson dropped to the bench, as Conor Sammon and  O'Donnell came in.

Despite the disparity in league positions, it was Kelty who made the brighter start in a first half they dominated, with Moore in particular a threat for the Wasps defence.

The former Heart of Midlothian youth dragged an early shot wide of target and, moments after having another blocked, forced PJ Morrison into palming the ball to safety with a decent strike.

Moore then volleyed over from the edge of the box, after a Wasps clearance fell for him, before he curled another attempt over after Lewis O'Donnell laid the ball into his path.

Kelty kept pushing for the opener, with Lyon having a shot deflected behind before a poor clearance out of defence afforded him the opportunity to have a go from around 20 yards, which again ended off-target.

Within a minute, he came even closer, driving into the Wasps area and forcing Morrison into a good stop, before they came even closer moments later.

Stefan McCluskey was the architect, sending over a fine cross from the right and, after taking a touch, Moore rattled the crossbar with a stinging shot from 12 yards, before O'Donnell slashed the rebound off target.

That was a let off for the visitors, who survived again when McCluskey moved forward and drove wide of the post, and Tam O'Ware headed a deep Tidser free-kick to the back post over.

Alloa had barely threatened, and the closest they came in the opening 45 minutes was in the final moments of the half, when Sammon had a near post deflected behind after Taylor Steven's low ball picked him out.

And the visitors made Kelty pay for their profligacy when they took the lead 11 minutes into the second half.

Morgyn Neill sent over a fine cross from the right and O'Donnell, lurking at the far post, had the simple task of heading beyond goalkeeper Kyle Gourlay after the ball arrived perfectly for him.

That was a blow for the 'Maroon Machine', and soon afterwards they suffered another when Lyon went down off the ball and had to go off injured, to be replaced by Ross Cunningham, before Morrison blocked from McCluskey.

The substitute went close when Morrison palmed away his attempt from a 25-yard free-kick, but that merely delayed Kelty's equaliser.

With 16 minutes to go, McGlynn, from inside the Wasps penalty area, sent a right foot shot into the bottom corner of the net to score his third goal in Kelty colours.

Then, incredibly, Kelty turned the match on its head with nine minutes to go.

A corner from the left was played right on top of Morrison, who did well to punch the ball out to safety under pressure.

Tidser picked it up and sent a shot towards goal, which was blocked, only for the loose ball to fall for O'Ware to poke home his first goal since January 2023, when he netted in a win at Clyde.

That proved decisive, giving the hosts' hopes of securing their League One status a shot in the arm, whilst slightly denting the Wasps' charge towards the promotion play-offs.

Kelty Hearts: Gourlay, Paterson, O'Ware, McKay, Lyon (Cunningham 61), Johnston, McCluskey, Tidser, O'Donnell (L. Owens 90), McGlynn, Moore.

Subs not used: Biabi, B. Owens, McAllister, Shearer, Garvie, Campbell.

Goals: McGlynn (74), O'Ware (81).

Booked: Tidser (41).

Alloa Athletic: Morrison, Taggart, Devine, Neill, O'Donnell (Coulson 84), Roberts, Scougall (Roy 74), Donnelly (Virtanen 64), Sutherland, Steven, Sammon (Buchanan 84).

Subs not used: Ogayi, McKay, Robertson, Mullen, Cawley.

Goal: O'Donnell (56).

Booked: Devine (38) Steven (68).

Referee: Stewart Luke.

Attendance: 418.