Royalists hit by Beattie blow as hosts make extra man count

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EAST OF SCOTLAND LEAGUE CUP

Lothian Thistle3

Hawick Royal Albert1

A disastrous two-minute spell for the Albert, in which they lost two goals and midfielder Craig Beattie, proved decisive in Saturday’s League Cup qualifier away to Lothian Thistle.

The Albert started strongly, and forged a very presentable chance just five minutes in. Kris O’Neil and Bobby Nwanze combining to rob the Thistle backline, but O’Neil’s low shot went just wide of the post.

At the opposite end, Liam Robertson did well to turn a tricky drive onto the post before pulling off another excellent save from the resulting corner.

A real back-and-forth encounter saw Hawick grab the next chance, Nwanze muscling through on the turn and firing in a venomous shot which Jamie Newman in the Lothian goal parried well.

However, Hawick were struck by a hammer blow in the 22nd minute, when Craig Beattie was forced off by a very poor challenge from a Thistle midfielder. Lothian capitalised on the numerical advantage instantly, Richie Wilkes latching onto the ball from a corner and blasting into the bottom corner.

Worse was to follow, as direct from their own kick-off Hawick played the ball back to Sean Loughlin, whose back-pass to his goalkeeper fell short – Omar Ali pouncing on the loose ball before firing past Robertson at the near post.

Hawick had a penalty appeal for hand ball turned down on the half-hour, and from the resulting corner Danny May, productive throughout, hit the bar.

It was end-to-end stuff, and within a minute Jason Wood was on the spot to clear off his own line from Ali.

The second-half got off to a terrible start, Jamie Hawkins netting with an easy header in the 56th minute to put his side further in front.

However, Hawick found a way back into the match, and might have reduced the deficit in the 66th minute when O’Neil was put through on goal with only Newman to beat. The Hawick striker, though, struck his low shot straight at the Lothian keeper.

The Albert continued to press but it took until the 86th minute before their play was rewarded when Kyle McCulloch bundled the ball home.

Jay Paterek and May both went close in the dying seconds.