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Highland League set for a new face as Brechin City are relegated from League 2 following their play-off defeat to Kelty Hearts, who will join Elgin City in League 2 next season

By Craig Christie

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KELTY Hearts beat Brechin City in the League 2 play-off final, and will replace the Angus club in Scottish football's fourth tier next season.

Brechin City in action against Elgin last term - the Angus club is expected to play in the Highland League next term. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Brechin City in action against Elgin last term - the Angus club is expected to play in the Highland League next term. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

A late Michael Tidser goal earned the Fifers a 1-0 win at Brechin's Glebe Park ground on Sunday afternoon to seal a 3-1 aggregate success.

It means that Lowland League winners Kelty, who are managed by former Scotland and Rangers captain Barry Ferguson, will join the SPFL ranks for the first time.

Brechin are expected to drop down into the Highland League, bringing it up to an 18-club division once again.

Their relegation ends a 68-year stint in Scottish league football, and sees City drop from the Championship to Highland League in just three years.

They finished bottom of the Championship in 2017-18 after failing to win a single match in the season, and were relegated from League 1 the following year.

Last season City were on course for a relegation play-off as they sat bottom of League 2, until the pandemic ended the campaign and the scrapping of play-offs saved them from a play-off against Brora or Kelty.

When they finished bottom of the league for a fourth straight season in 2020-21, and Kelty beat Brora in the battle of the Lowland and Highland winners, Brechin's league status was on the line.

They were defeated 2-1 at Kelty in midweek and despite a battling performance at Glebe Park on Sunday, with both teams having a man sent off, the visitors snatched a late win.

Kelty will join relegated Forfar Athletic as new sides in League 2 next term alongside Elgin City, replacing Brechin and champions Queen's Park.

Two former Elgin players, Thomas Reilly and Dylan Easton, star in Ferguson's team and will return to their old stomping ground next season.

Elgin and Stranraer stay in League 2 after exiting the play-offs at the semi-final stage, and Edinburgh City lost last week's play-off final 3-2 on aggregate to Dumbarton, who remain in League 1 while Edinburgh stay in the fourth tier for another year.

Brechin's place in the Highland League has yet to be confirmed but they lie north of the dividing line determining which of the fifth tier divisions they will play in next term.

It is understood that Brechin have a preference for playing in the Lowland League but won't be allowed to join the south set-up.

They would become the most southerly club in the Highland League, and would face a 430-mile round trip when the play the most northerly side, Wick Academy.

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