Selkirk FC will be treading warily on the approach to tomorrow’s (Saturday) Borders derby in the Lowland League – but they believe they have the players to win it.
The Souters face a potentially resurgent Hawick Royal Albert at Yarrow Park, where they hope to carry forward the confidence from last weekend’s victory over Gala Fairydean Rovers.
Selkirk were a goal down after a poor first-half performance but recovered impressively to win 2-1.
David Banjo, recently back from injury, scored the equaliser, while Dale Baxter won it for Selkirk with a great strike in the dying stages.
Assistant manager David Bingham knows Hawick RA will provide tricky opposition, after collecting their first point of the season at Christmas against Dalbeattie Star, and they’ll be very different from the team whipped 10-1 by Selkirk at the start of the season.
“I know Craig Tully (Hawick RA manager) from playing days,” said Bingham. “He’s made a difference, slowly but surely, turning the playing staff around and getting better players in.
“It was a thankless task because of the position they were in – but they were very unlucky not to beat Dalbeattie Star.”
“Slowly but surely, the (Hawick) players are maybe getting the message from the manager,” he added. “It’s going to be a tough game for us and, if we play like we did in the first half at Gala, and Hawick have their tails up from having a positive result against Dalbeattie, then we could find ourselves on the back of a bad result.
“But derby games are derby games, whether it’s in the Borders, Glasgow or Fife. You want to beat your neighbours. I played in enough of them myself.
“The form goes out the window, no matter what gulf is between them. That could be bridged on a game day if one team is not up for it and the other team is – and that was evident on Saturday in the first half at Gala.
“I think we have the players, but the players have to turn up, and turn up for 90 minutes.”
Ryan Slater should be back from a one-game ban following his red card at East Kilbride, although Reece Donaldson could be out through suspension.
The condition of Sean McKirdy and Ricky Miller was being assessed during the week, while some of the younger players may again be considered.
Of the Gala FR game, Bingham said: “I thought we were poor in the first half, considering how we can play and how we have played.
“I thought we were very unlucky not to get anything from the Spartans game but I don’t think, in the first half, we reached anywhere near that level.
“In the second half, when we scored, it changed the whole momentum of the flow of the game, which goals tend to do. In the first half, we could have been two or three behind and had no complaints, but Gala were a wee bit guilty of missing good chances.”
Changes became necessary when McKirdy suffered a groin injury and Miller, who had not played since the Scottish Cup tie at Banks O’ Dee, was introduced.
“That gave us a bit of presence and we finished the first half quite well,” said Bingham. “But credit to Gala – they put us under a lot of pressure. They harried us, they pressed us, and we didn’t cope with it very well.”
Trailing 1-0 at half time to Kieran Ainslie’s opener, Bingham told the players the next goal would change the complexion of the game and, if Selkirk scored it, they could go on to win.
After Banjo’s equaliser, Selkirk were the team in the ascendancy and Gala FR looked dangerous only on the counter-attack.
Bingham added on the balance of play, a draw would have been a fair result, but he was delighted with the win after the effort put in by the players.