Albert exit cup after second-half horror show

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Royalists’ second-half captitulation saw them crash out of the SFA South of Scotland Challenge Cup at Albert Park on Saturday.

However, it was far from the one-sided encounter that the scoreline suggests. Indeed, the Hawick outfit reigned supreme in the first half. They knocked the ball about well, looked organised and showed great purpose.

And that’s the way it remained until 16 minutes of the second period had gone. The Albert Park men lost a goal which put Lothian on level terms. It was only an equaliser but it was to lead to Royalists’ downfall as from here on the home side simply fell to pieces.

Facing the current East of Scotland League champions, the Albert set the early pace and Ryan Stevenson and new signing Josh Morris fluffed scoring opportunities in the opening minutes.

Alieu Faye then pierced the Lothian defence with a run and sprayed a pass to Blake Wales who drove a shot just past the post.

Royalists continued to run the show and visiting keeper Kevin Swain pulled off a magnificent one-handed stop in pushing away a Morris drive that appeared destined for the net.

In the 33rd minute the Albert took a deserved lead. Morris hit in an effort which was blocked by Swain. The ball then broke to the home striker who hit in a second effort that struck the bar. All was not lost, though, as Faye banged home the rebound.

The Albert continued to look the part and early in the second half should have increased their lead. Faye found himself in a scoring position but despite having loads of space, the Albert’s top marksman failed to shoot first time and was overelaborate before finishing poorly.

This was to prove to costly a miss and with 61 minutes gone Lothian got an equaliser. After Shaun Spence had lost possession, Darren Smith broke clear down the right and slotted a shot past Andrew Mackay.

Three minutes later, Richie Wilkes put Lothian ahead when turning in a Smith corner-kick.

In the 72nd minute the Albert fell further behind. Mackay spilled a Smith corner-kick and Dean Cummings stepped in to score.

It was game over now. Royalists had turned from saints to sinners and it came as no real surprise when Willis Hare grabbed a fourth in the 83rd minute.

A minute from time, Smith added further salt to the Albert’s wound by netting a penalty.

Talking of his side’s showing, a bemused Albert manager Dean Shanks told the Hawick News: “In no way did I see that result coming at half-time. We really competed in the first half, played good football, were by far the better side but should have score more goals.

“After we had missed a great chance at the start of the second half, Lothian went up the park and scored following a mistake by us. We then lost another goal and that was it, we went on to be just terrible.”

Hawick Royal Albert: A. Mackay, C. Robertson, S. Spence, M. McEwen, R. Boyd, S. Crozier, R. Stevenson, D. Linton, J. Morris, A. Faye, B. Wales. Subs: K. Rankin, S. Campbell, M. Lynch, G. Pettigrew, D. Urey.