Eight-goal blast has Albert reeling after early promise

Albert boss Mick Murphy (centre) cuts a pensive figure alongside assistant manager Stuart Sharkey (left) and coach Davie Aitkin
Albert boss Mick Murphy (centre) cuts a pensive figure alongside assistant manager Stuart Sharkey (left) and coach Davie Aitkin

ROYAL Albert’s Scottish Cup dream turned into a nightmare on Saturday when they were thrashed 8-1 by Gala Fairydean.

Royalists started the game – which was moved to Selkirk as Gala are having a synthetic pitch laid – as outsiders and that’s the way they finished.

However, they led the way in the first half and appeared as though they could be in with a chance of causing an upset. But a second period horror show, in which Mick Murphy’s men completely lost their way, put paid to this.

Fairydean ended up with eight but it could well have been double figures, such was the gulf which emerged between the two teams.

Royalists began brightly enough, though, and were first to look like scoring when Liam Lavery fired wide after weaving his way out of a challenge.

In the Albert’s next attack, Lavery caused Gala concern again with a jinking run before hitting over a low, dangerous-looking cross that diving Gala keeper Elliot Turnbull did well to cut out. With 11 minutes gone, however, Fairydean broke the deadlock. Jay Wilson floating a cross over the face of the goalmouth, with the unmarked Jack Hay taking full advantage of some slack covering to find the net with a header.

Gala stretched their lead in the 19th minute when Albert keeper Chris Anderson failed to cut out a cross from the left when challenged by Wilson. And with the Hawick rearguard at sixes and sevens, Alan Jackson stroked home a shot.

Although having led the way through the more attacking play, Royalists were two goals down and had an uphill task on their hands.

However, they narrowed the gap on the 28-minute mark. Taking a free kick 30 yards out, Luke Cooper unleashed a tremendous drive that looked a goal as soon as it left his boot, and the ball ended up high in the top corner of the net.

Minutes later, another free kick fell the Albert’s way. Cooper appeared set to have another go at goal, but Lavery this time took the award and his effort was deflected away by a Gala defender for a corner kick.

Roddy McConnell then almost snatched an equaliser when sending a header narrowly past the target in connecting with a Cooper corner.

The pace of the game dropped for the remainder of the first half, but two minutes after the interval it began to hot up, Royalists being caught cold by a quicksilver Gala attack which ended in Grant Gass drilling home a shot.

Fairydean struck again in the 55th minute, Hay intercepting a misplaced Mark Deans pass back, before darting forward to do the business with a trundling shot that went under the body of the sprawling Anderson.

Former Hibs signing Gerri Rossi made it a nap hand for Gala with a spot-on finish after 60 minutes. The Albert were in disarray and it came as no surprise when the Netherdale men added to their tally in the 68th minute. Substitute Aaron Brunton latched on to a long ball from the back before ghosting through a non-existent Hawick defence to score easily.

The Fairies were flying high and notched a seventh with 78 minutes gone when Wilson tucked away a Ross pass into the net.

After Albert’s Bryan Tait had been thwarted by a Turnbull save at the other end, Gala brought an end to their goal blitz in the 88th minute when Jackson was downed in the box by a Lavery challenge and referee George Duncan awarded a penalty.

Hay took the resultant spot kick, but Anderson, who had not had the best of afternoons, pulled off an excellent save in getting down to push away the Fairydean man’s effort. However, Hay completed a miserable day for Hawick by banging in the rebound to complete his hat-trick.