Two goals from giant striker Alieu Badara Faye helped steer new-look Hawick Royal Albert to victory over local rivals Hawick United.
Saturday’s competitive and entertaining pre-season friendly encounter at Albert Park on Saturday saw both sides knock the ball about well while producing some good flowing football.
And talking of his side’s winning show, Albert manager Mike Atai told the Hawick News: “It was a good workout for us and I was pleased with the result. We knew it was going to be a difficult game and that Hawick United would make it hard for us. But we came through it well and I was happy with our attitude and that we always attempted to play passing football.”
United set the early pace and Kevin Strathdee came near to scoring with a well-struck free-kick that whistled just over the bar.
It was the Albert who broke the deadlock, however, by sailing ahead in the ninth minute.
After latching on to a long ball from the back, Cameron MacFarlane raced forward and when attempting to round keeper Dean Fry, he was brought down by the Tangerines number one and a penalty was awarded.
One of many newcomers in Royalists’ line-up, recent signing Alieu Badara Faye, who stands a towering 6ft 8in tall, slotted the resultant spot-kick into the bottom corner of the net.
Minutes later, Shaun Stephen came near to notching a second with a glancing header on meeting a cross from a trialist left-back.
The Albert continued to push forward and after Mark McEwan had touched a Gavin Pettigrew corner-kick wide of the target, MacFarlane was denied a strike by a Fry save.
In the 31st minute, Atai’s troops increased their lead. MacFarlane found Faye with a cut-back and the big hit man produced a spot-on finish in drilling a shot past Fry.
United then began to assert themselves and Albert keeper Kyle Rankin was twice put to the test in a matter of minutes in keeping out efforts from Kevin Strathdee and Robbie Kelly.
Just on the interval, Ewan Thomson had a chance to reduce the leeway but fired wide after being set up by Aaron Swailes.
Although play was lively enough, the early part of the second period brought about few goalmouth incidents.
With 62 minutes gone, though, United fell into further arrears. Following the upending of Faye by Ryan Shepherd, who was booked for his challenge, a free-kick was given. Substitute Fergus Lockhart, who had only been on the park for a few minutes, then got himself on the scoresheet in leaving Fry helpless with a superbly-struck shot that sailed high into the roof of the net for a tip-top goal.
With the Irene Hutchison Trophy awaiting the victors of the game, which is now an annual affair, the action continued to flow and Faye came near to completing his hat-trick when hitting a Stephen pass past the post,
At the other end, Kevin Strathdee and Kelly, in turn, came near to netting.
United manager Geo Shepherd said of the match: “I wasn’t happy with the way we lost out first two goals. We gave a decent show, though, and played some good stuff. I thought Robbie Kelly was a stand-out for us and he really had a great game.”
Albert’s two goal ace Alieu Badara Faye commented: “It was nice to score two goals and I think there will definitely be more goals to come during the season.”
Hawick Royal Albert: K. Rankin, C. Robertson, Trialist, D. Linton, S. McKenzie, M. McEwan, S. Stephen, G. Pettigrew, A. Faye, C. MacFarlane, S. Campbell. Subs: R. Boyd, Trialist, L. Mitchell, M. Lynch, F. Lockhart.
Hawick United: D. Fry, K. Patterson, R. Shepherd, D. Strathdee, L. Shanley, E. Thomson, R. Scott, R. Kelly, K. Strathdee, A. Swailes, C. Richardson. Subs: M. Shepherd, D. Slight, A. Fanci, A. Anderson, S. Shields.