|25th March 2017||19:00||Ferrari Packaging Lowland League||2016-17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
|Hawick Royal Albert FC||1||1||2||Loss|
HAWICK ROYAL ALBERT 2 SHIRE 4
Shire’s sheer will to win carried them to victory in a tight game against Hawick Royal Albert on Saturday evening.
John Sludden’s team twice had to come back from a goal down before a two goal burst in the closing ten minutes carried them to a much-needed three Lowland League points at Albert Park.
Kick-off was altered to an unusual 7pm to cater for Groundhop Day and the hosts were rewarded with a bumper crowd of non-league enthusiasts, some of whom were taking in their fourth game of the day.
The head coach was deprived of the services of the suspended Drew Ramsay but was able to welcome back skipper Derek Ure and Liam Allison to the starting eleven. Simon White dropped out from the Shire team who had won their last game 3-2 in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup against Tynecastle two weeks earlier.
Hawick had played twice since Shire last pulled their boots on, and their results and performances in those two games would have given the visitors plenty of food for thought in the run-up to the match.
A week earlier they had scored an impressive home victory over Cumbernauld Colts and on Tuesday Hawick had come close to causing an upset at leaders East Kilbride before going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat.
And that warning was well-founded as Albert started the game the stronger. They took the lead after 13 minutes when Hamish Hunter was on hand to fire home from close-range after Shire keeper Jamie Barclay had saved, but failed to hold on to, a shot from outside the box.
The home team took encouragement from that and went about trying to increase their advantage but Shire held firm with Barclay only really called upon to make a save from a long-range free kick after 26 minutes.
It took the visitors a fair bit of time to get going but there were signs around the half hour mark that the team was starting to work through the gears and the half-chances started to present themselves.
Then, after 33 minutes Shire did manage to find the back of the net. David Grant cut the ball back across the face of goal for Andy Rodgers to power home a header from close-range for the equalising goal, the striker’s 33rd of the season.
And Shire might have gone in at the interval in front but, after 38 minutes, David Grant was unlucky to see his effort strike the post before the home team cleared the ball to safety.
Hawick started the second period just as positively as they had the opening one and Shire again had some defending to do. The eagerness of the home team was evident and, after 58 minutes, it was rewarded when the Shire defence got itself in a fankle allowing Kris Mitchell to fire the ball into the net from almost point-blank range.
Both teams made it an enjoyable evening for the larger-than-usual crowd and wasted little effort in trying to get more goals. Just as had been the case in the first half, it took Shire a while to raise a gallop but the team’s hunger and desire for victory always gave the visiting supporters hope.
David Grant was thwarted by three great saves from the home keeper as Shire started once more to create the scoring chances they needed to give them hope of taking something from the match.
Eventually the Shire determination was rewarded after 76 minutes when they got themselves back on level terms. Once again David Grant was the provider with a cross which substitute Jamie Glasgow nodded over the line.
But Sludden’s team was not happy to settle for that. Four minutes later Rodgers was on hand to take advantage of some indecisiveness and confusion in the home rearguard to smack a shot from 12 yards into the back of the net to give Shire their first lead of the game.
The Hawick keeper was then shown a yellow card by the referee for protesting after claiming a foul in the build-up to Rodgers’ goal. The goalie then continued to give the ref his views on the matter and was shown a second yellow, leaving the home team 3-2 down and with only 10 men.
That took the pressure off Shire for the closing ten minutes and they were able to take advantage in time added on when Paul Sludden shot home Shire’s fourth goal from a tight angle.
SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, A.Grant, Greene, Oliver, Faulds, Rodgers, Ure, D.Grant, Sludden, Allison.
|Hawick Royal Albert FC|
|7 A698, Hawick TD9, UK|