Excellent first-half display sets tone for Royal Albert triumph

Hawick RA's number eight, Declan Knox, makes it 2-0.
Hawick RA's number eight, Declan Knox, makes it 2-0.

Hawick Royal Albert 2

Tweedmouth Rangers 1

Two first-half goals helped steer Hawick Royal Albert to their second home win of the season on Saturday.

They had to go every inch of the way to collect full points, though, as Tweedmouth Rangers had the better of the second period by far.

The Royalists, who performed well during the opening 45 minutes, had a hero in goalkeeper Craig Saunders, who thwarted the visitors throughout the game with a string of top-notch saves.

Hawick assistant manager Andy Gibson said: “We had 12 of our squad missing and were lucky to get a team on the pitch. Considering this, I thought we did really well and it was an excellent win for us at the end. In the first half, we performed very well and, although not producing the same sort of impetus in the second half, the players got on with the job, got stuck in, and we got the three points we were after, which has improved our league position.”

After Josh Neil had come near to putting Royalists ahead in the early exchanges, Craig Saunders denied Tweedmouth an opener with a great double save.

The big number one firstly dived to push out an Owen Renton drive and then blocked a Ewan Smith shot after he’d met the ball on the rebound.

With 18 minutes gone, the Albert broke the deadlock.

Neil whipped a low cross over the face of the goalmouth and Michael Johnston produced the scoring touch, in rattling a shot past Rangers ‘keeper Chris Anderson.

Following an excellent Saunders stop from Rhys Dixon, Hawick increased their lead in the 32nd minute when Declan Knox slotted away a Johnston pass.

Minutes into the second half, Anderson prevented the Albert from getting a third in tipping a rasping Dominico Pacitti free kick on to the post.

Saunders then pulled out the stops at the other end with an acrobatic leap to hold a Regan Graham header.

Tweedmouth were now looking the more impressive side and Saunders showed his class again by clawing away a Craig Colquhoun back header.

Saunders, in turn, broke Tweedmouth hearts once more when getting down to push a Kieran Cromarty close-range effort against the post following a corner kick.

In the 78th minute, Rangers reduced the leeway. The home defence made a hash of clearing a Graham free kick and Kai Strang cashed in by driving home a shot.

With Tweedmouth going all out for an equaliser, Royalists had their backs against the wall and Saunders starred in keeping out a Darren Bowie drive.

Seconds from time, Bowie was ordered off. Having been booked for a rash challenge, the substitute was shown a second yellow card immediately afterwards for remarks to referee Ian Gallagher.