Victory in a potentially dangerous fixture against the zero-points bottom side has set Hawick Royal Albert up perfectly for a derby fixture tomorrow (Saturday) against Peebles Rovers.
The Albert returned to action on their home ground on Saturday, after a weather-induced sabbatical, against Tweedmouth Rangers – the closest team beneath them, who were desperate to find their maiden points of the campaign.
The Albert had only a skeleton crew, with just 13 players available – including three trialists.
Suspension, injury, illness and unavailability had taken their toll, while Hawick played the last 15 minutes with only 10 men after one of their substitutes injured an ankle.
But an excellent performance in the first half saw the Albert go in deservedly ahead, and they managed to absorb something of a Rangers assault in the second half.
Hawick jumped a couple of places in the league table and should have more players to choose from for the visit tomorrow of Peebles Rovers, whose incentive will be the local bragging rights and the chance of reparation after a 5-0 drubbing at Coldstream.
The Albert would be confident, said manager Paul McGovern, but he wanted a better showing against Peebles than earlier in the season, when a second-half sag saw Albert go down 3-1.
“I was delighted on Saturday with the result,” he said. “We were really strapped for players and it was a very makeshift side.”
Declan Knox, who, ironically, scored Hawick’s second goal, had not trained after being out of the game for two months, while several other players were away after Christmas and another had ‘flu.
The Albert were also missing Modou Touray, Dembia Thaim and David Kerr through suspension.
“Taking everything into consideration, with the lack of training and the lack of games, it was a fantastic result,” said McGovern.
Tweedmouth, with a full squad, would have regarded it as a big game for themselves but it was a “massive three points” for Hawick, he added.
“I was delighted with what the lads offered me and we deservedly came in 2-0 ahead at half time,” he said.
But the boss knew that, with the very thin squad he had, the lack of training and trialists coming in for the first time, players would tire and the first-timers would be an unknown quantity.
“I told the players it was going to be a tough second 45 minutes and we were only halfway there – and that proved the case,” said McGovern. “Tweedmouth threw everything at us. We did rattle the bar and forced their ‘keeper into a couple of good saves, so we were unlucky not to make it 3-0. But, after that, they threw players forward and caused us a few problems, and got a goal back with 11 minutes to go. It was a matter of holding out for the result, but we held on.”
McGovern will have a larger squad available for tomorrow, with the return of David Kerr, Cormack O’Brien and Lithuanian centre-back Egidijus ‘Eggy’ Savickas, among others, so will be looking to avenge the previous loss to Peebles Rovers at Whitestone. “I am really hopeful we can put in a performance and rectify that result,” he said.