Hawick Royal Albert 1
Gala Fairydean 1
EoS FIRST DIVISION
JOHN SLORANCE reports from Albert Park
Border derby games, especially between Hawick Royal Albert and Gala Fairydean are inclined to be passionate, tense, dramatic and exciting affairs.
And this one was all of the above. There were seven bookings, Gala had two players sent off and after having their backs against the wall for a good part of the match, the Netherdale side snatched a share of the points with a last-gasp goal after all seemed lost.
The two respective managers had contrasting views about the result and Hawick boss Lawrie Dunn told TheSouthern: “We are devastated that we didn’t win. The players sat in the dressing room after the game with their heads in their hands as we should have won the match.
“We have no one to blame but ourselves as we had loads of chances, but just couldn’t take them.
“I am not going to say that we are a better side than Gala, but we were the better side today, especially in the first half.
“That’s football for you, though, and although the boys are absolutely gutted, we got a draw which is something that we would have taken before the game”.
Fairydean manager Fraser Lothian said: “I am happy that we managed to get a point. Hawick are a massively-improved side from the last time we met. They were really up for it in the first half and played well.
“In the second period, Hawick had chances to finish off the game but, thankfully for us, didn’t take them. Our second sending-off was very harsh and I thought that was it when we went down to nine men.
“However, we fought hard and did enough to get a late goal and I was happy with that.”
Lining up with an understrength side due to a crop of injuries, Fairydean went close to scoring with just minutes gone when recent capture from Gala Hotspur, Scott Nightingale, drove a shot against the post on meeting an Andy Brown cross.
Then Graham Clee almost edged Hawick ahead, shooting wide from a Kris O’Neil lay-off. Minutes later, O’Neil was out of luck himself with a swirling corner kick that Gala keeper Elliot Turnbull punched onto the bar.
Following good play between Geri Rossi and Craig Tyson, Nightingale should have got on the Gala scoresheet, but with the goal gaping in front of him, blazed a shot over the upright. The action continued to flow and Turnbull pulled off a superb save when tipping an Andy Noble shot away from an O’Neil pass.
With 36 minutes gone, the deadlock was broken and what a beauty of a goal it was.
Latching onto the ball in midfield, O’Neil jinked his way out of three challenges before finding the net with a glorious shot.
Just on the interval, Gala were reduced to 10 men when Jay Wilson, who had been booked earlier, picked up second yellow.
Hawick opened the second half strongly and Turnbull did well to keep out an O’Neil effort. The pace began to drop from here on, but the Albert still had the edge and Paul Power and newcomer Darren Thomson both failed to cash in on chances.
Following the introduction of substitute goalkeeper Aaron Lynch for the injured Turnbull, Fairydean found themselves down to nine men.
Substitute Bruce Hunter, who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, brought down Noble.
It looked a booking at the most, but Edinburgh referee Paul Hanlon thought it was more and brandished a red card. Hunter was very unfortunate to be given his marching orders, though, as it was his first foul.
Fairydean now had a huge uphill task on their hands to get result, but with three minutes of the match remaining they climbed that hill.
Showing a good touch of pace, Jack Hay pierced the Hawick rearguard with a darting run and slipped a pass to the feet of Tyson, who emerged Gala’s saviour by calmly shooting home.
Hawick Royal Albert: A. Jack, G. Burnett, J. Wood, L. Dunn, J. McGhie, G. Clee (J. Patereck), D. Laing, P. Power (S. Drummond), K. O’Neil, A. Noble, M. Patton (D. Thomson).
Gala Fairydean: E. Turnbull (A Lynch), C. Jeffrey, A. Brown, P. Young, G. Lothian, C. Tyson, J. Wilson, S. Nightingale, G. Rossi (B. Hunter), J. Hay, R. Hewitson.