Hawick Royal Albert 2

East Kilbride 3

David Knox at Albert Park

TOP against bottom clashes aren't supposed to be this close.

But an improving Hawick team showed on Saturday that, despite remaining pointless at the foot of the table, there is a glimmer of hope they can make a dramatic recovery in the second half of the season.

Craig Tully has recruited well since arriving on his salvage mission in the autumn.

And despite failing yet again to pick up any points, he remained upbeat at the final whistle.

He said: "I am delighted with the attitude and effort of the players today.

"Yes, I'm disappointed not to get anything from the game but from where we have come this is yet again a marked improvement.

"We need now to start turning these performances in wins and draws."

Hawick started this clash brightly but an error by towering defender Rodrigue Nanitelamio almost gifted the reigning champions a seventh minute opener.

Sean Winter took advantage of the slip to whip in a cross for Ross McNeil to head inches wide.

Home keeper Craig Saunders also saved well after Winter turned and shot inside the area.

But the Albert were also creating.

On 18 minutes Ally Simpson skipped past the full back to deliver a tremendous cross which Samid Akinpelu narrowly failed to divert into the net.

And just five minutes later an eye-catching one-touch counter attack led to Jacob Kean tipping David McGaughie's powerful shot round the post.

Kilby were denied twice by good Saunders saves either side of the half hour.

And it looked as though the well-organised back five, with Jon Tully and Eggy Savickas at its heart, would hold out until half time.

But in the 43rd minute Adam Strachan managed to round Simpson and his cut back was slammed into the net by Michael Anderson.

It looked as though Kilby had secured the points with two goals in two minutes early in the second half.

McNeil beat Saunders with a terrific low finish from the angle in 51st minute.

And in the 53rd minute Anderson added his second from just inside the area.

Hawick refused to give up with McGaughie producing several lung-bursting runs from deep to search for a way back.

The midfielder was denied by Kean in the 80th minute as he shot through a crowd of players.

But his efforts were rewarded six minutes later with a powerful shot from 15 yards.

The Albert continued to push for more and they grabbed a second through Lithuanian defender Savickas in stoppage time.

Hawick Royal Albert: C Saunders, A Simpson, S Spence (G Summers 61), J Tully, E Savickas, R Nanitelamio, D McGaughie, C O’Brien, S Akinpelu (C Rose 65), L Erhard (D Grant 81) & D Birrell.