Hawick Royal Albert 3

Vale of Leithen 1

David Knox at Albert Park

MIDWEEK availability played its part on Tuesday evening as Hawick took a giant step towards certain safety in the Lowland League.

Vale of Leithen had no fewer than 12 players missing for the Borders derby.

And manager Chris Anderson was forced to use his only substitute - fitness coach Sean Taylor - after only 20 minutes.

Following the defeat Anderson told us: "It was always going to be a difficult night with so many players not available for one reason or another.

"I had several call offs late in the day and only just managed to field a team.

"Credit to the boys for the way they responded in the second half and we were a little unfortunate not to get something from the game."

On-fire forward Josh Morris scored the home team's opener after 10 minutes with a sweet strike from the edge of the area.

Vale's problems intensified when centre-half Danny O'Donnell was forced off with a nasty looking shoulder injury.

His reluctant replacement, Taylor, had completed a 60 kilometre cycle run in the morning and was only listed as a substitute due to several late call offs.

Despite his tired legs and inexperience on the field it was Taylor who gave Vale the shot in the arm they needed.

The fitness guru twice delivered pin-point crosses for Jason Stevens to head just over.

But some loose defending by the visitors allowed Morris to race into the area and slot home Hawick's second on 42 minutes.

Vale responded well after the break with another Taylor cross on 52 minutes being converted in off the post by Liam McIntosh.

Blair Atkinson twice went close for Anderson's team as they searched for an equaliser.

But Hawick continued to look dangerous on the counter attack.

Fabulous link-up play between Morris and Yusif Bernawi saw the towering midfielder go within inches of stretching the home advantage.

The third goal did come on 83 minutes with Hamish Hunter showing great close control to create space before unleashing a stunning strike into the top corner from the angle.

The victory takes the Albert two points clear of now second-bottom side, Selkirk, with only one match remaining.

With the scenario of a Highland League team replacing the bottom side in League Two leading to a second relegation, the victory was a valuable one for Hawick boss Kevin Milne.

He said: "It was our intention to go out and take the game to Vale by creating chances - and I thought we did that in the first half.

"We had to weather a storm at the start of the second half but we did that and were rewarded.

"I'm hoping that will be a crucial three points."

Hawick Royal Albert: A Jack, R Stevenson, S Spence, C Watson, S Campbell, S Conaghan, Y Bernawi (D McKenzie 86), J McPartlin, J Morris, J McInally (S Nicholson 89) & H Hunter.

Vale of Leithen: A McQueen, J Scott-Mercer, T Paterson, C McBride, D O'Donnell (S Taylor 21), S Lynch, A Hunter, R Manson, J Stevens, B Atkinson & L McIntosh.