New-look Albert have a long way to go

HRA vs Selkirk
HRA vs Selkirk

Hawick Royal Albert 1

Selkirk 4

EoS QUALIFYING LEAGUES GROUP A

KENNY PATERSON reports from Albert Park

“A Week is a long time in politics,” said former Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The same could be said of East of Scotland football, judging by how Selkirk and Hawick Royal Albert have fared in their first seven days of the season.

With several amateur players from the town returning to the Royalists ranks, it appeared the struggling side would finally see a change in results.

Instead, they have suffered three heavy League Cup defeats, their latest against a rejuvenated Selkirk team written off before the season had begun by supporters and bookmakers.

It is, of course, only the infancy stage of the season and too early to judge either side too much, with both missing key players.

But with many of the starting line-ups having connections to the opposition, it was no surprise that the first half of this Borders derby was still as lively as a night on the streets of London last week.

At the centre of most of the play was Selkirk striker Jamie Gibson, whose two-goal performance suggested he may fill the void left by Des Sutherland’s departure.

It was Gibson who supplied the cross after just six minutes which found ex-Hawick Waverley man David Battle, whose perfect header left Hawick keeper William Turner with no chance.

Jordan Yardley almost equalised three minutes later as his weaving run along the byline somehow beat a series of defenders, but Selkirk stand-in stopper Jamie Lyall came to the rescue.

Lyall then denied ex-Selkirk defender Craig Wilson, who could only volley a Liam Lavery cross straight at the keeper.

New Souter signing Daryl Burdett looked particularly impressive alongside Gibson and Andy Hardie for Selkirk, and his sweet left-foot shot on 23 minutes cannoned off Turner’s right hand post.

A minute later, however, it was 2-0. The phrase defence-splitting was made to describe Jason Inglis’ pass to Gibson, who struck a great shot beyond Turner.

Gibson could have had another two goals – and had a penalty award turned down – before half-time as he caused havoc in Hawick’s creaking defence.

He only had to wait four minutes after the break for his second goal, with a thumping drive from the edge of the area.

But Murphy’s men struck back on 53 minutes, as Sean Owens’ shot struck the arm of Barry Milven from close range and Lavery dispatched the penalty.

Yet any hopes of a Hawick fightback were ended by one of their own townsfolk.

Andy Hardie’s perfect cross found Inglis, and the Teri was somehow unmarked from six yards out to head home with ease.

At full-time, Murphy was generous in his praise of Selkirk while admitting his own side have work to do before the First Division kicks off.

He told TheSouthern: “Selkirk are a very good side and played some nice football.

“They were sharper than us and well organised at the back.

“It has been a tough first three games, but we have guys such as Roddy McConnell still to come back. Our aim for the season is to get off the bottom of the league.”

Templeton added: “We told the players not to get involved in any battles before the game and stay calm.

“The guys did that and played some nice football.

“We are using this competition as an extended pre-season with a lot of boys still on holiday, but these are still games we want to win.”

Hawick RA: W. Turner, M. Cooper, S. Sharkey, C. Wilson, C. Batten (A. Reilly 58), B. Tait, L. Lavery, M. Deans, S. Owens, J. Easdon (K. McCaughey 69), J. Yardley

Selkirk: J. Lyall, L. Stephen, B. Milven, E. Pritchard, R. Pritchard, J. Inglis, D. Battle, D. Burdett, J. Gibson, L. Hardie (W. Mercer 57), A. Hardie (T. Craggs 63).