ALBERT HIT ROCK BOTTOM

Hawick keeper Craig Saunders makes a save from Graeme McGregor East Stirling.
Hawick keeper Craig Saunders makes a save from Graeme McGregor East Stirling.

Hawick Royal Albert 1 
East StirlingSHIRE 4

After two seasons in the Lowland League, Hawick Royal Albert’s fight for survival ended at the weekend as they were relegated following a thumping by East Sirling.

In their first term, the Royalists avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth.

And hopes were high for better fortunes this season – but this has not been the case.

The Albert have struggled and as their bottom of the table position shows – they have struggled big time.

So much so, East of Scotland League football awaits the Albert Park outfit next season.

They did not help their cause through a poor showing against East Stirlingshire.

Certainly, they were up against it in facing a side that was standing in third place in the league table.

Adopting a defensive approach that didn’t quite go to plan, Royalists just did not get tuned in.

Without Michael Johnson, Greg Summers and former Rangers and Annan Athletic signing Curtis Rose, who had all been released in midweek, the Albert found themselves a goal down with 17 minutes gone.

Connor Greene got his head to a Derek Ure corner and saw his effort pushed away by home No.1 Craig Saunders.

However, the ball had crossed the goal line and the ‘Shire had opened the scoring.

Royalists then showed what they had to offer when David McCaughie drove a shot over the bar from an Unpha Koroma free-kick. East Stirling were on the front foot and, after Andy Rodgers had curled an Adam Murray pass wide of the target, Jordan Topping had the ball in the net on meeting a well-flighted Ure free-kick.

Referee Craig Ferguson, however, ruled out a goal for offside.

Minutes later, Egidijus Savickas came to the home men’s rescue in clearing away a Paul Sludden header that was destined for the net.

In the 40th minute, East Stirlingshire stretched their lead.

A stationary Albert defence was caught cold by a long, searching crossfield pass which found Sludden and the ex-Falkirk striker cashed in by breaking forward to fire past Saunders.

With 17 minutes of the second half gone, another goal arrived.

Ure hit a free-kick past a disjointed-looking defensive wall and with Saunders slow in moving, the ball ended up nestling in the back of the net.

Minutes later, Rodgers got his name on the scoresheet in rattling away a Jamie McCormack pass.

The Royalists hit back to reduce the leeway in the 71st minute with a top-notch counter attack which was the best of the game by far.

Sub Cormack O’Brien, who had only been on the park for a few minutes, was the scorer by beating visitors’ keeper Jamie Barclay all ends up with a thundering drive on the volley after meeting a headed clearance following a Ludovic Erhard free-kick.

From here on, as had been the pattern of the game throughout, East Stirlingshire were on top but failed to add to their tally.

Albert manager Craig Tully, a one-time East Stirlingshire boss, said of the game: “It just didn’t happen for us.

“Okay, we started off well enough, but then we got into the old habit of losing sloppy goals.

“You can’t afford to do this against sides the quality of East Stirlingshire, or any team, come to that.

“Having drawn with East Stirlingshire away from home, it was a disappointing result for us”.