THE Albert Park stand was full for the first time in years as a new-look Royalists side kicked off their pre-season with a friendly against a Falkirk XI.
The fixture certainy caused a stir among the town’s football fraternity, and much of this can be attributed to the injection of fresh blood into the Hawick ranks, namely Bryan Tait, Roddy McConnell, Andrew Maltman, Peter Gellaitry, Jordan Yardley, Chris Monaghan, Jody Easdon, Kyle Finlayson and Connor Robb.
And although the Albert came off second best to a well-organised, slick young Falkirk side, they nevertheless gave a good account of themselves and indeed for a spell in the first half had the upper hand.
The match got off to a quiet start and failed to conjure up any scoring chances until the eighth minute when Gellaitry shot wide from a Liam Lavery pass.
A minute later, Lavery was causing Falkirk concern again with more good approach play, before feeding Yardley, who rattled in a shot that was deflected round the post by a Falkirk defender. Following Maltman’s resultant corner kick, Yardley drove in an effort that Rowan blocked on the goal-line.
After Albert keeper Willie Turner had denied Falkirk an opener in saving in style from Ally Graham, the woodwork prevented Royalists from taking the lead. A Chris Monaghan free kick slipped from the grasp of the visitors’ number one Graham Bowman, and the ball took a bounce before hitting the post.
With 26 minutes gone Falkirk edged in front when Graham produced a piece of spot-on finishing in tucking away a pass from Thomas Grant.
Back came the homesters, and Bowman pulled off a superb save in tipping a Monaghan free kick over the bar.
Falkirk went further ahead in the 35th minute when a sweeping raid down the middle caught the Albert out at the back, and Graham duly produced the scoring touch again by firing home.
Within minutes Royalists almost drew level when Maltman whipped over a free kick which was met by the head of Roddy McConnell. A goal appeared to be on the cards until Bowman called a halt to things by leaping sideways to finger-tip the big Albert defender’s effort round the post.
On the stroke of half-time Falkirk added to their tally. Graham, who the day beforehand had been on the bench for The Bairns against Preston North End, completing his hat-trick by racing in to round the advancing Turner before slotting an angled shot into the net.
With eight minutes of the second period gone, Les Lewis, who had come on as a substitute folllowing the changeover, increased Falkirk’s lead with a shot that crossed the line after glancing off the post.
Three minutes afterwards Lewis did the business again in driving a Steven Brisbane cross past the helpless Turner.
After the lively Lewis had came near to completing his hat-trick, Blair Munn had a chance to put the Falkirk youngsters further in front, but fired wide.
Although five goals down, Royalists kept plugging away and were rewarded for their efforts in the 73rd minute. Running onto a through-ball from Yardley, Lavery darted forward and, after calmly whirling round Falkirk substitute keeper Greg Amos, steered the ball into the net to the great delight of the home suppport.
Speaking to the Hawick News after the game, Falkirk coach and ex-Celtic and Hearts star Stevie Fulton said: “Our squad today comes from the Falkirk footballing academy, and the oldest was 18.
“Playing good football is our aim and I think we managed to do this.
“I was happy with the way we performed but would have been happier if we hadn’t lost a goal. Although Hawick scoring didn’t please me, it certainly pleased the crowd though.”
Albert’s Liam Lavery was named man-of-the-match.