Hawick Royal Albert 4
Cumbernauld Colts 3
at Albert Park
OVERJOYED Albert boss Kevin Milne hailed his Hawick players after they pulled off a shock on Saturday to ease any relegation fears.
But the former Aberdeen player endured a nail-biting climax for his first win since arriving in the dugout.
Milne told us: “We don’t like to do things the easy way but I’m thrilled with the way the boys played today.
“That was a big result for us against a really good team.
“The points mean we can stop looking over our shoulder and start looking at the teams above us.
“We’re far from safe but we are in a much better place than we were before this game.”
Hawick had performed well in Milne’s two previous league games in charge – against Edinburgh University and Spartans – without earning a point.
And it took a colossal effort, and a little luck, to get the better of a Cumbernauld team who finished third in last season’s Lowland League.
Hamish Hunter provided the perfect start for the hosts as his glancing header from a Hamish Hunter cross after 90 seconds wrong footed keeper Chris Fahey.
Josh Morris almost doubled the advantage in the fifth minute as he jinked his way into to space before being denied by a strong hand from the Colts keeper.
Cumbernauld were unfortunate not to level in the 12th minute as Sean Brown’s floating header came back off the bar with Andy Jack beaten.
But it was the home team who continued to press with Jon McInally stinging the hands of Fahey with a ferocious 25-yard freekick.
David McKenzie also struck the Colts bar from the angle and Morris fired inches wide following good build up play.
But, with almost the last play of the half, Jonathan Black managed to get past his marker to cross for Brown to fire home the equaliser from 15 yards.
It was harsh on a Hawick team who had worked hard to be on top.
But there was no sign of self-pity as they came out for the second half.
Shaun Spence was denied by a block in front of goal and both Morris and Sean Conaghan went even closer before they did restore the advantage.
James McPartlin cut in from the left on 54 minutes to pick out Morris with a tremendous pass, and the club’s top scorer made no mistake from 12 yards out.
Cumbernauld drew level again 12 minutes later as substitute Jeff Fergus raced into the area to convert a low cross from close range.
Steven O’Neill should have put the visitors in front just a minute later but he hit the post from six yards out.
And Brown had an even better chance on 69 minutes as he found himself facing an open goal only to hesitate and allow Spence to somehow recover and throw himself into a block.
Hawick regrouped and gradually began to find their passes again.
McInally picked out Hunter with an inch-perfect ball and the winger jinked inside his marker to curl a fantastic shot beyond Fahey and into the far corner.
Jack pulled off a couple of good saves to maintain the advantage going into the final minutes.
And, in the 86th minute, Hunter looked like he’d secured the victory after combining well with Mitchell to poke home the fourth.
Brown made up for his earlier miss by kneeing Steven O’Neill’s cross into the net to make it 4-3 in the 90th minute.
And there was still time for the striker to have one last chance deep in injury time, but he steered a low cross round the wrong side of the post with the goal at his mercy.
It was a let-off for Hawick – but a let-off that 90 minutes of hard work and determination perhaps deserved.
Hawick Royal Albert. A Jack, R Stevenson, S Spence, S Conaghan, D Johnson, J McPartlin, H Hunter, J McInally, J Morris, K Mitchell & D McKenzie (Y Bernawi 70).