Royal Albert sunk by students’ late storm of goals

Hawick Royal Albert 2

Stirling University 6

League Cup section A

John Slorance reports from Albert Park

WITH 12 minutes of the game remaining, it appeared as though Hawick Royal Albert were in with a chance of pulling off a surprise result and gaining their first point in the League Cup on Friday evening.

The score was level, the Royalists were playing well and holding their own against a much fancied Stirling University side.

But then it all went wrong. Mick Murphy’s side were hit by a four-goal blitz and after seemingly heading in the right direction, the Albert had hit the road to nowhere.

It was a carbon copy of Hawick’s game against Gretna 2008 just four days earlier when they conceded four goals in the last 10 minutes. With heavy rain sweeping over Albert Park, Hawick were first to threaten when Sean Owens’s well-struck shot was blocked by Jason Atkins after a Jody Easdon corner kick.

Easdon then came near to breaking the deadlock by firing wide on being set up by a Roddy McConnell lay-off.

After trialist keeper Chris Anderson, who was replacing the suspended Wullie Turner, had denied the students an opener with an excellent save from Robert Pearson, Hawick sailed into the lead in the 17th minute with a superb goal.

A cross from the left was only partially cleared by Stirling and the ball broke into the path of Steven Sharkey who unleashed a thundering drive that raged high into the top corner of the net.

It was a beauty of a counter but one that surprised goal scorer Sharkey, who said later: “I couldn’t believe it as I don’t score goals often.

“In fact, I didn’t know how to celebrate and just stood there motionless and it didn’t really sink I that I had actually scored until the boys ran up to congratulate me.”

However, Sharkey’s joy was short-lived as, with 31 minutes gone, Stirling equalised when Chris Geddes tucked away a Steven Hoyle cross from what appeared to be an offside position.

Eight minutes later, the students went ahead. Easdon handled in his own box and Geddes sent Anderson the wrong way with the resultant penalty.

The Royalists began the second half strongly and within five minutes drew level. Liam Lavery swung a free kick into a crowded goalmouth and Peter Gellaitry produced the scoring touch in stabbing home a shot from close range.

Stirling followed this up with some probing attacks but, with McConnell in particular impressing in a resolute Hawick defence, they failed to create many chances.

However, when McConnell, who was playing in his first match of the season, was taken off, Hawick began to lose their shape and in the 78th minute Stirling edged in front.

Pearson, a real quality performer, sprayed a pass to the feet of Daniel Denholm who fired past Anderson.

Two minutes later, Geddes completed his hat trick and in the 85th minute Craig Mason made it a nap hand for the students in putting away a Denholm cross.

Just on full time, Emmot Gallagher latched on to a long ball from the back and rounded Anderson to score a sixth.

Sharkey added: “We were gutted to get beaten by such a big score.

“We had played well and shown good attitude until being hit with those four late goals. Up until then though we did really well against a quality side.”

Hawick RA: C. Anderson, S. Sharkey, M. Cooper, R. McConnell (K. McGaughey), P. Gellaitry, B. Tait (R. Connor), L. Lavery, M. Deans, S. Owens, J. Easdon, J. Yardley.