Spot of bother, but Albert draw

Royalists on the attack at Peebles
Royalists on the attack at Peebles
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ROYAL Albert paid a heavy price at Peebles on Saturday when they had to settle for a draw after missing two penalties.

It was a game in which they should have done better, for apart from squandering two spot-kicks, Royalists faced ten men for most of the match due to the first half sending-off of the Peebles goalkeeper.

With coach and former player Davie Aitkin coming out of retirement to play in goal, and with two trialists in Gary McCall and Danny May from Edinburgh amateur football in their ranks, the Albert almost scored in the first attack of the game when Andy Noble fired over the bar after a dashing run.

Rovers replied with a sweeping raid which ended in Scott Watson driving a shot against the foot of the post.

Forty-six-year-old Aitkin then showed he was still a more than capable keeper in pulling off a fine save from a Nicky Cairns header, following a Jason Girdwood cross.

Play was switching from end to end and on the half-hour mark Albert’s Kris O’Neil burst through the Peebles defence, but his run came to an end when he was brought down in full flight by home keeper John Nesbit.

Referee Evan Cairns pointed to the spot and showed Nesbit a yellow card which could well have been a red.

Nesbit, however, remained on the park and within seconds emerged Peebles’ saviour when diving full length to his right to push away Craig Beattie’s spot-kick for a magnificent save.

Minutes later, Rovers’ Charlie Nwanze hit the upright with a thundering drive on connecting with a cross from David Knox. Within minutes of this it was penalty time again.

A danger to Peebles every time he got the ball, O’Neil weaved his way goalwards and on attempting to round Nesbit was once more sent tumbling to the ground by the big keeper.

Another spot-kick was awarded. Nesbit was booked for the second time and given his marching orders.

Outfield player Nwanze took over in goal and Paul Power collected the ball for the penalty. Same situation but different players involved was the setting.

The outcome was not to change, though, as there was to be no goal for Royalists, with Power’s shot brilliantly kept out by Nwanze.

At the start of the second period, Nwanze put up the shutters again with great saves from Jay Patereck and O’Neil in a matter of seconds.

With 59 minutes gone Peebles sailed into the lead. After breaking down the right, former Albert signing Dale Wrey swung over a cross which Greig Shortreed blasted home at the back post.

Four minutes later the Albert equalised. Following a surging run, Power found O’Neil with a low cross and the Hawick striker stabbed the ball out of the reach of Nwanze.

Neither side were looking for a draw and were pushing forward for further goals.

Aitkin thwarted the home-sters by keeping out a Dale McCall shot, while at the other end, Albert new boy Danny May, who had replaced Martin Patton, was just off target with an angled drive that whistled just past the target.

Other efforts came along but nothing produced a goal.

Talking of his comeback appearance, the evergreen Davie Aitkin told the Hawick News: “Manager Lawrie Dunn was trying all week to fix up a trialist for the game, as regular keeper Andy Jack is now working in Wales.

“I was half-prepared, though, but didn’t know I was actually playing until an hour before the kick-off.

“Fortunately, I wasn’t tested a lot and enjoyed the game, but I would have enjoyed it more had we won.

“But at least we got a point.”