Crowds flocking to Albert Park for Lawrie Dunn’s managerial debut last Friday night were treated to an incident-packed encounter.
An improved performance was certainly on show for all to see, along with promising debuts from Darrell Laing, Dave Stewart and Dunn himself for the home side, but Hawick will be disappointed not to take something from a game in which Duns played with nine men for over 45 minutes.
The opening period gave no indication of the drama to follow. Andrew Maltman’s long free kick five minutes in found Craig Wilson, but on the slide and at an acute angle, he was unable to steer his shot on target.
A better chance was conjured two minutes later, when a Mark Deans flick-on nearly put Luke Cooper through, but the ball just eluded the incoming striker.
A number of fussy free kicks and yellow cards resulted in a game with very little flow and mounting frustration; Maltman, in particular, could count himself unfortunate to be booked for what looked like an unintentional hand ball.
The game burst into life in the 27th minute when Jamie Lackenby was taken out inside the box by Malcolm Cooper. Lackenby’s cross was turned home by Mark Weatherburn, but the referee had already blown his whistle and pointed to the spot. Jamie Brydon sent Chris Anderson the wrong way from the penalty to put the Dingers into the lead.
Within a minute, however, Duns were reduced to ten men. A poor touch on the run found Lackenby lunging in dangerously on Malcolm Cooper, who vaulted the tackle with minimal contact. But the surprise around the ground was palpable when the referee produced a straight red.
Deans hit a shot from the edge of the box which was too close to the goalkeeper, while Weatherburn incurred the referee’s wrath – and a yellow card – for diving in the box.
Laing’s volley from a corner needed only a little more dip to have beaten Mark Dixon in the visitors’ goal, but Hawick were still coming to grips with their one-man advantage when it was doubled to two.
With five minutes to go in the half, Andrew Douglas took out Maltman on the halfway line. With Douglas already on a booking, the second yellow meant an early bath.
The second half saw the Albert take the game to the numerically disadvantaged visitors. Dunn’s shot from 25 yards was blocked by a defender’s hand, but the referee waved away the protests.
Duns, to their credit, had composed themselves during half time, and were looking well-organised and confident, even managing to spring counter attacks of their own.
Wilson was on the spot to hack away Weatherburn’s cut-back after a great run by the winger, while Gary Renton’s header on the hour found only the gloves of Anderson.
Hawick struck back, Luke Cooper’s cross finding Laing, but the newcomer couldn’t generate the power to beat Dixon.
With 15 minutes left Hawick fashioned their best chance of the game, Deans coming in from the right to beat one man then another before rounding the onrushing keeper. The Duns defence, however, recovered in time to block as Deans poked the ball towards the empty net, although Laing charged down the clearance only to see the ball bounce just wide.
With time running out, Hawick reverted to a long-ball game, and a number of goalmouth stramashes saw shots fired in by Dunn, Laing and Maltman, none of which troubled the goalkeeper.