Hawick Royal Albert 2 East Stirlingshire 4
Hawick Royal Albert came so near and yet so far to causing an upset at Albert Park on Saturday evening.
With 14 minutes remaining, relegation threatened Royalists were a goal ahead and had more than matched high-flying East Stirlingshire.
It was looking good for the home men at this stage but it then went terribly wrong.
In a madcap spell the visitors netted three times.
The Albert’s misery did not stop here, though, as goalkeeper Andy Jack was red carded.
Royalists opened the scoring with 14 minutes gone when Hamish Hunter rifled home a shot in a crowded goalmouth following a Jon McInally free-kick.
Playing some good passing football, the Albert were looking the likelier side and after being fed by a Ryan Stevenson throw-in, Josh Morris weaved his way out of two tackles to drive the ball into the side-netting.
Visiting keeper Jamie Barclay then did well to keep his goal intact in holding a powerfully struck McInally free-kick from under the bar.
East Stirlingshire gradually began to come into the picture and Paul Sludden and David Grant both came near to netting.
In the 36th minute, however, the Shire did open their account.
Grant floated over a corner kick which was headed home by Andy Rodgers.
Towards the break both sides came near to adding to their scores. A Grant shot cannoned off the post, while at the other end Hunter was thwarted by a Barclay save.
Early in the second period East Stirlingshire hit the woodwork for a second time when a Rodgers free-kick rebounded off the post.
The action continued to flow and in the 58th minute Kris Mitchell put the Albert ahead with a clinical finish after being put in the clear by a through ball from David McKenzie.
Royalists were very much looking the part, but the Shire still had loads to offer and after being kept at bay by a string of saves from Andy Jack, snatched an equaliser, substitute Jamie Glasgow doing the scoring.
Within minutes of this Rodgers put the visitors in front for the first time.
Royalists had lost a goal but they were to lose a player as well.
Apparently protesting that there had been some infringement, Jack lost the plot completely in hurling abuse at referee George Calder.
The big keeper was yellow carded but continued with his verbal comments and crazy behaviour and was duly shown a red.
Outfield man Jamie McPartlin pulled on the gloves as a replacement.
The deputy keeper was soon beaten when Sludden scored.
Expressing his thoughts on the game Albert full-back Stevenson said: “Up until the last quarter of an hour we were in with a real chance of getting something out of the game.
“We had been as good as East Stirling and had played very well. It was very disappointing to lose the way we did.”
The game was watched by Albert Park’s biggest crowd of the season – reason being the arrival of groundhoppers in abundance.
These football enthusiasts and fans who take in non-league games at different grounds were part of an organised trip that attended five matches overall during the weekend in Scotland.