Preston Athletic 7
Hawick Royal Albert 1
EoS FIRST DIVISION
JOHN SLORANCE reports from Pennypit Park
A GAP of 34 league points, six goals and two players separated the two sides at the end of this game.
It was eventually a runaway win for table-toppers Preston against nine-man Hawick, but the first half was no stroll for Athletic.
In a lively opening period, Sean Martin had an opportunity to put Preston ahead in the second minute, but fired wide.
Hawick then showed what they had to offer when Paul Power sent a header past the post on meeting a Kris O’Neil free kick.
And with 14 minutes gone, Albert took the lead.
O’Neil floated over a corner from the right flank, which Preston failed to clear and Craig Beattie cashed in by rattling his shot into the corner of the net.
But the visitors’ lead lasted just seven minutes, Martin emerging their marksman, heading home a Kevin Cairnie free kick.
Seven minutes later, Hawick, who had been more than matching Preston, received another jolt. Power and Hobbins collided in mid-air going for a high ball and while the Athletic man got treatment for a head wound, to the surprise of players and spectators alike, Power was red-carded by referee Gordon McVicar for apparently using an elbow to the face.
The whistler then added further confusion by resuming the game with a bounce ball and not a free kick, which was mystifying, considering he had dismissed Power for a foul.
After Jack had denied Preston a second with a fine save from Fraser Henderson, home number one Shawn Thomson kept Hawick out with a magnificent stop from O’Neil’s curling free kick.
At the start of the second period, Preston took the lead when Henderson produced the scoring touch by slotting away a pass from John Kerr.
Eight minutes later, the Prestonpans outfit added to their tally when Kerr netted after Jack had parried a Henderson shot and it was four on 60 minutes as Brian Wilson scored from the penalty box.
In the 64th minute Henderson made it a nap hand for Preston, turning a Wilson free kick past Jack and matters were to go from bad to worse due to a second Hawick sending off, and it was a bizarre one.
On coming off the park in the process of being substituted, Graham Clee, who had been yellow-carded earlier, knocked a water bottle from the bench. The Albert midfield man got a second yellow card for his actions and due to the substitution not having been recorded, Hawick were down to nine men.
From here on, Preston dominated and Henderson completed his hat-trick before Sean Black also got amongst the goals.
Hawick assistant manager Graeme Chadwick told TheSouthern: “We played very well in the first half and were as good as Preston, even when down to 10 men. After losing a daft goal at the beginning of the second half we started to struggle and it was backs to the wall stuff.”
Hawick Royal Albert: A. Jack, G. Burnett, S. Chambers (T. Wyman), J. McHie (S. Drummond), P. McAllion, (N. Paton), G. Clee, K. McDonald, C. Beattie, K. O’Neil, A. Noble, P. Power.