Smith bags brace as Royal Albert stave off Kelso threat

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East of Scotland First Division

Hawick Royal Albert3

Kelso United2

A brace by Hawick Royal Albert striker Michael Smith was enough to give Royalists victory against ten-man Kelso, writes Ronan Alexander.

After a scrappy start, the hosts seized the initiative with shots from Innes Zenati and Andy Noble.

The Tweedsiders were reduced to 10 men in the 18th minute when Grant Gass misstimed a slide tackle on Noble.

And the Teries made the extra man count in the 29th minute when Ronald Fleming found the net with a right-footed shot from just inside the box.

Hawick were dominating, and nearly doubled their lead when Paul Brown headed wide after Kelso keeper Elliot Turnbull hadmisjudged a cross.

The Albert were made to rue that missed chance, as from the resultant goal kick, the visitors’ Shane Bonnington fired home the equaliser.

But Hawick hit back immediately and regained the lead through Smith, who steered home a Michael McKenzie cross. Smith then bagged his second of the game after a well-worked free-kick, which was squared across from Zenati to send the hosts in 3-1 up at the interval.

Kelso started the second half brightly, with Calum McClure shooting wide from inside the area. The Woodside Park men continued to press, and Chris Black reduced the deficit when finding the bottom corner with a free-kick from 20 yards out.

From here on, Kelso – whose best chance came five minutes from time when Damien McNulty headed over from a corner – were unable to notch an equaliser, as the Albert rearguard kept the Tweedsiders at bay with some strong defending.