Royalists go down fighting but students hold on for win

Josh Morris was involved in Albert's goal
Josh Morris was involved in Albert's goal

Edinburgh University 2 
Hawick Royal Albert 1

Hawick Royal Albert dropped further into the relegation zone in suffering their 15th league defeat of the season which plunged them into second bottom spot in the table.

With new faces, goalkeeper Andy Jack, centre-back Steven Campbell and winger Yusif Bernawi, who have all been snapped up from the junior ranks, added to their squad, the Albert showed improvement from recent outings.

This was not to be enough for despite having more passion and bite to their play, Royalists didn’t get the points they were so desperately seeking and needing. The managerial team of Kevin Milne and Grant Scott, who took over the reins from the departed backroom staff of Dean Shanks, Dean Robertson, Scott Mckenzie and Alisdair McVeigh, are knuckling down to the job to keep their new team on course, but its proving to be a tough job.

The University made the early running and came near to scoring through a Max Vertaik header following a corner kick.

Minutes later after the Albert had failed to clear a Ewan Ritchie cross, Rota Calbacho powered in a shot which cannoned off Ryan Stevenson and hit the upright.

Royalists replied with a sweeping raid which ended in Jon McInally setting up Josh Morris, who had a shot blocked by the foot of University keeper Mark Tait.

After Tait had pulled off a fine save from Kris Mitchell, Albert No.1 Andy Jack proved his worth at the other end.

Jack first of all kept out a Luke Murray effort before excelling even further by thwarting Calbacho and Jack Guthrie with excellent stops.

University were looking the likelier side but it was Royalists who broke the deadlock by sailing ahead in the 35th minute.

On meeting a well-flighted McInally free-kick, Morris hit the bar with a powerful header.

The rebound fell the way of Mitchell, who had fired home.

Five minutes later the University drew level when Calbacho cashed in on some slack defending by slotting away a Guthrie cutback.

A minute from the interval the students struck again.

After the linesman had failed to raise his flag for a ball that had crossed over the line, a cross field attack was launched which ended in Scott Irving chipping a shot over the head of Jack from far out.

With two minutes of the second period gone, Morris squandered a golden opportunity to grab an equaliser in blazing a shot well wide of the target when in the clear.

After Morris had failed to make use of another chance that fell his way, Daryl Johnson almost got his name on the scoresheet with a well struck drive.

The Albert continued to push forward but there was a lack of a killer touch in front of goal and this proved to be fatal as the University hung on to their one-goal lead to gain the bragging rights.

Albert assistant manager Scott said: “I was disappointed with the result as I thought we deserved to get something out of the game.

“However, I was not disappointed with the spirit that our players showed.

“A lot of effort was put in and there was a big improvement in attitude.

“Being hit by two quick goals just on half-time was a blow, but we got ourselves sorted out, fought back well and were the better side in the second half and could well have went on to win the match.”

Hawick Royal Albert: A Jack, R Stevenson, S Spence, C Watson, D Jacobs, D Johnson, H Hunter, S Conaghan, J Morris, K Mitchell, J McInally. Subs: C Hughes, Y Bernawi, S Campbell, GK – K Rankin.

Meanwhile, Hawick United and Hawick Legion Rovers both sailed into the semi-finals of the Forsyth Cup with merited wins.

United toppled Gala Hotspur 3-0.

Following a no-scoring first half, United ruled the roost following the interval and after Kevin Strathdee had netted, Robbie Kelly and Danny Bolton stuck away further goals.

Legion Rovers defeated Melrose 2-1. Kieran manners put Rovers ahead but Melrose fought back to equalise.

Rovers had the last say, though, in grabbing a winner through a Charlie Mitchell strike.