Dumbarton were made to rue their missed chances as they were knocked out of the SPFL Trust Trophy.
League One side Kelty Hearts were the visitors for the first ever meeting between the sides for this third round contest and came out on top in a 3-1 victory, with Michael Ruth netting his first goal for Sons.
Boss Stevie Farrell made eight changes for the tie as he looked to dish out game time to those who are returning from injury and have struggled for minutes so far this season.
The centre-half trio of Mark Durnan, Sean Crighton and Matty Shiels were the only three who remained from the win over East Fife last week as Harry Broun, Kalvin Orsi, Gregg Wylde, Ryan Blair, Tony Wallace, Carlo Pignatiello, Declan Byrne and Ruth were all given starts.
The game started as the half, and much of the contest, would go on – with Dumbarton on the front foot.
After just a couple of minutes Pignatiello battled down the right and got in behind Tom O’Ware before bursting into the box and putting a low ball across goal that was deflected towards the corner but kept out by the feet of Kyle Gourlay in the Kelty goal.
The ball looped up into the air and was headed towards goal by Byrne, but Gourlay was up sharply to get something on his effort and it was behind for a corner.
A couple of efforts from Wallace then threatened the goal as he had a header saved and another curling strike go just off target before Ruth had the most clear-cut chance yet after being teed up by Wallace in a central position, only to be denied by that right boot of Gourlay once again.
That had all happened in the the opening ten minutes – and by 16-minute mark Sons were 2-0 down.
With the visitors first foray forward resulting in a corner, Reece Lyon made the most of it to glance the ball past Broun from close range and six minutes later Botti Biabi clinically finished after slack passing from Sons.
Dumbarton were somewhat shellshocked as they could quite easily have been comfortably ahead themselves but were instead chasing the game.
Not to be disheartened, they were immediately back on the attack with Ruth showing tremendous running to chase down a seemingly lost cause and tee up Wallace – but there was Gourlay to keep him out.
Durnan was next to have a go but he was off target before Ruth sent Byrne through on goal and with just Gourlay to beat he slid his effort wide of the post on the half-hour.
Byrne did find the target a couple of minutes later but his powerful header was straight at Gourlay.
The hosts finally found a way through on 34 minutes, from arguably one of their most difficult opportunities.
Ruth still had a lot to do when he got on the end of a ball over the Kelty defence but he showed a couple of smart touches to beat Jason Thomson and rifle the ball into the bottom corner on his left foot.
Wallace nearly levelled things up before the break with a shot from 25-yards just bouncing past the bottom corner and at the other end Tiwi Daramola fizzed a shot across goal that whistled just wide of the far post.
After the break, Sons did remain in control of possession but weren’t finding as many gaps in the Kelty defence that they did in the first-half.
Ryan Wallace, Finlay Gray and Jinky Hilton were all introduced as Farrell looked for a spark with the latter just nodding off target at the back post following Pignatiello’s cross.
Kelty looked to seal their spot in the next round on 76 minutes when Biabi capitalised on a piece of miscommunication and loose passing from Crighton and Broun to slide the ball into the net.
Sons were given a boost on 78 minutes with Jamie Walker shown a second yellow-card and Kelty would see the game out with ten men.
However the sting had been taken out of the game and the home side failed to get going again in the final ten minutes as the game finished as 10v10 with Ryan Wallace dismissed for a second bookable offence after an altercation with Biabi.
The result brings Sons SPFL Trust Trophy to an end for another season with league duty back on the agenda next weekend as they travel to Elgin City.