Illness-ridden Hawick Royal Albert boss Paul McGovern had NINE players call off on the eve of Saturday’s league derby at home to Peebles Rovers.
The Albert were forced to list a threadbare squad of 13, containing two trialists – but battled back from behind three times to salvage a point.
Just as they were the previous weekend against Tweedmouth Rangers, Hawick RA’s resources were stretched almost to snapping point. Boss McGovern was battling a virus and lucky even to be at the game.
But he praised his makeshift line-up for showing the character to keep coming back and its willingness to keep battling until the 4-4 draw’s full-time whistle.
Indeed, the Albert rescued a point through a free kick from Dom Pacitti in the dying moments.
The Albert have taken four points from six with squads of only 13 players – but McGovern hopes a few more of his charges will be available for duty tomorrow (Saturday), away to Coldstream.
Of last weekend, he said: “I certainly went through all the emotions and was totally drained on Saturday night. For the neutral, it was a very entertaining game.
“I was very happy with the way the boys came back – three times they came from behind to salvage a point. There was a lot of credit to the players for that – for not just giving up and throwing in the towel, but to continue to come back three times from behind, right until the last minute.
“Performance-wise, it was not our best of the season but, again, we were strapped, with a very, very makeshift side.”
McGovern appealed to his players to put in a display, as they had when reduced to similar numbers against Tweedmouth Rangers.
“We lost some poor goals but Peebles may say the same,” said McGovern. Both sides scored from a penalty and a free kick each – with Pacitti’s point-saving effort his second long-range goal of the game.
“The way the game went, I think I have to be happy with a point, and the way the players rallied right till the end,” said McGovern.
Right-back Ben Maxwell, who played as a trialist and was also tried out against Tweedmouth, was signed after the Peebles game.
The gaffer was hoping players such as David Kerr, Declan Knox and Lewis Knox may also be back in contention for a place tomorrow at Home Park.
The Royalists went down 4-1 to the Streamers at Albert Park in mid-November and McGovern is anxious not to endure that again. “We could see they are a decent side who score goals,” he said. Tweedmouth Rangers took their first league point of the campaign against Coldstream last week in a 3-3 draw, but McGovern said they would be tough opposition on their home patch.
However large or small the Albert squad, he added, his players were always looking forward to a game.
Twice in succession they’ve had only 13 players, while the last 10 minutes against Tweedmouth were played with only 10 men because of injury.
“I can’t fault their efforts or be too critical on that side of things,” he said. “We’re just lacking a bit of depth in the squad and that bit of quality to get us further up the table, where I would like to be – but I have to be realistic.”