Peebles Rovers 1
Hawick Royal Albert 1
EOS FIRST DIVISION
John Slorance reports from Whitestone Park
AS far as good football was concerned, this game did not have a lot going for it.
It did, however, have its talking points. Hawick failed to convert two penalties, Peebles had their goalkeeper John Nesbit sent off, his replacement Charles Nwanze turned out to be a hero and there was a crop of bookings. Yes, this bottom-of-the-table clash certainly had its share of drama.
Rovers manager Stuart Robertson told TheSouthern: “At the start of the week, it was a game I felt we could win but considering we had team problems in having six players missing and had our goalkeeper sent off in the first half I was happy with a draw.
“When we went down to 10 men I thought that was going to be it, but the boys showed a lot of character and battled hard.”
Peebles came near to breaking the deadlock in the opening minutes of the match when a good build-up move ended in Scott Watson driving a shot against the post.
The Albert then showed their mettle when Martin Patton was put in the clear by a Kris O’Neil flick on, only to fire wide. On the half hour mark, Hawick were awarded a penalty when O’Neil was pulled down by Rovers keeper John Nesbit. The Peebles number one was yellow carded and then denied the Albert an opener in pulling off a superb save from Craig Beattie’s spot kick.
Back came Rovers and after breaking upfield, David Knox swung over a cross that Ctharles Nwanze thundered against the upright. Minutes later, ex-Hearts ace O’Neil broke through the Peebles defence and on rounding Nesbit had his legs whipped away from him for the second time by the home number one.
It was another penalty, Nesbit received a second yellow card which led to his dismissal. Outfield man Nwanze, who was on Rangers books as a youngster, took over in goal and got off to the best possible of start by brilliantly stopping Paul Power’s penalty.
In the early part of the second half, Nwanze excelled again, first blocking a Jay Patereck shot and then tipping an O’Neil shot over the bar from the rebound.
And, with 59 minutes gone, Peebles edged ahead. Dale Urey found Greig Shortreed at the back post with a spot-on cross and Shortreed produced a perfect finish, rattling the ball past 46-year-old David Aitkin, who was making a one-off comeback in the Albert goal.
Rovers’ joy was short-lived, for four minutes later, Hawick equalised. Following a thrusting run, Power threaded a cross to the feet of O’Neil who tucked a shot into the back of the net.
After Dale McCall and Watson had squandered chances for the homesters, Nwanze pulled out the stops once more in keeping out a Patereck effort from an O’Neil cross.
Hawick’s assistant manager Graeme Chadwick commented: “I thought we deserved to win but once again we failed to make the most of our chances.
“Missing two penalties was hard to take. Okay, they were both well saved, but you just can’t afford not to put away penalties. We played well in the second half when playing three in the middle and I am disappointed we only got a draw.”
Peebles Rovers: J. Nisbet, D. Urey, D. Knox, J. Girdwood (P McCallion), S. Joyce, C. Nwanze, N. Cairns, M. Mackenzie, S. Watson, D. McCall, G. Shortreed.
Hawick Royal Albert: D. Aitkin, G. McCall, J. Wood, L. Dunn, J. McGhie, P. Power, A. Noble, C. Beattie, K. O’Neil, J. Patereck, M. Patton (D. May).