Hawick Royal Albert 0
Heriot-Watt University 3
EoS FIRST DIVISION
JOHN SLORANCE reports from Albert Park
SINCE Christmas there has been a big departure of players from within the ranks of Hawick Royal Albert.
On Friday evening, however, there was a large arrival of players. Indeed, Hawick had eight trialists in their squad, seven of them signing after the game.
The injection of new blood failed to register a win, but all was not lost, for although having nothing to show for it, Royalists impressed in what turned out to be a fast-flowing encounter.
The newcomers blended together surprisingly well and the home side produced some good football and loads of commitment, and against a lesser side could well have got a result.
Heriot-Watt, however, proved formidable opposition.
The students were fit, well-organized, razor-sharp and positive. Coached by ex Hibs stars Michael Renwick and Micky Weir, the Riccarton outfit indeed had a lot to offer.
The Albert were first to look like scoring when player/manager Lawrie Dunn blasted a shot over the bar following a Graham Clee free kick.
Andy Noble then fired wide before Euan Watson squandered a chance for Heriot-Watt, heading a Matt Travis lay-off past the target.
With 24 minutes gone the University broke the deadlock. After breaking down the right Gavin Main swung over a cross which Michael Webster headed home at the back post.
Minutes later, University keeper Craig Sanders was put to the test, dealing with a Darrell Laing effort following a good move that had been sparked off by a Graham Burnett throw-in.
The Albert kept their foot on the gas and, on beating a man, Danny Burns found Laing with a superb long crossfield pass, Laing cut inside and fired wide.
Two minutes from the break, Royalists fell further behind. Making his debut, Paul McCallion had the misfortune to turn the ball into his net from a Ricky Burke touch on.
In the first attack of the second period, Laing troubled the Students’ rearguard by bursting in from the right only to be thwarted by a Sanders save.
The University replied by adding to their tally in the 51st minute.
Hawick keeper Paul Tansey was slow in coming for a Webster cross and Watson stole in to net.
Royalists followed this up by bringing former Hearts signing Kris O’Neil off the bench as a replacement for Laing.
O’Neil, who also played with Spartans and Craigroyston, soon began to catch the eye with some skilful touches – and within a few minutes was involved in a move that almost produced what would have been a stunning goal.
Finding space down the left the ex-Tynecastle man floated over a cross which found Burnett.
The Albert trialist full back then produced a splendid overhead kick that beat Sanders all the way, but the ball skimmed off the upright. O’Neil then went close to scoring himself when wriggling out of two challenges before hitting a shot past the target.
In the closing stages Albert battled hard for a deserved goal, but it wasn’t to be.
Hawick assistant manager Graeme Chadwick told TheSouthern: “We competed well and played some good football against one of the best teams in the league with a team that was playing together for the first time.
“I thought all of the trialists played very well, but we never got a rub of the green during the game.
“The breaks just didn’t go our way. If we can start getting a bit of luck and play the same way as we did tonight, I’d be very happy.”
Hawick Royal Albert: P. Tansey, G. Burnett (S. Duff), S. Chambers, L. Dunn, P. McCallion, G. Clee (W. Corbett), A. Noble, C. Beattie, P. Power, D. Burns, D. Laing (K. O’Neil).