Hawick Royal Albert 0-1 St Andrews United: Sawers strike seals it as the super Saints succeed

St Andrews United travelled to Hawick Royal Albert for the first time in the East of Scotland League on a surprisingly pleasant January day last Saturday and the visitors produced a dominant display to claim all three points in this second division encounter.
Lewis Sawers celebrates his winning goal for St Andrews United at Hawick Royal Albert (Pics by Steve Cox)Lewis Sawers celebrates his winning goal for St Andrews United at Hawick Royal Albert (Pics by Steve Cox)
Lewis Sawers celebrates his winning goal for St Andrews United at Hawick Royal Albert (Pics by Steve Cox)

Good Hawick goalkeeping plus the woodwork on two occasions prevented Lewis Sawers, James Collins, Micheil Russell-Smith and Ryan Dignan from opening the scoring in the first-half.

Meanwhile, away goalkeeper Calum Brodie was virtually a spectator at the other end of the park throughout the opening 45 minutes so the score remained 0-0 as the sides headed inside the main stand for the interval.

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United manager Robbie Raeside then made two changes at the break with Jordan Mackenzie replacing Davie Shields, who was treading carefully on a yellow card, and Reece Redpath coming on for Russell Smith.

Sawers' vital strike came on 85 minutesSawers' vital strike came on 85 minutes
Sawers' vital strike came on 85 minutes

Raeside consequently asked his team to play in a more direct manner during the second-half with two strikers up front, but his plans were slightly altered when James Collins hobbled off injured.

Lewis Grant therefore made his senior debut as a substitute for Collins in the 64th minute and the 18-year-old performed well as part of United’s attack by cleverly running into channels as well as linking play with his colleagues.

Mackenzie and Sawers subsequently went close to scoring with good efforts before Scott Reekie almost found the net with a header, yet the score remained goalless heading into the final quarter of an hour.

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Dignan then knocked the ball past Ross Wallace in the Hawick goal following a great cross from Ross Cunninghan but referee Leslie surprised both sets of players by penalising the bearded striker for using his hand.

St Andrews United ground out the three pointsSt Andrews United ground out the three points
St Andrews United ground out the three points

That decision clearly annoyed Raeside because the home defenders did not appeal for a foul.

But the Saints boss was celebrating less than 10 minutes later when his team eventually took the lead.

Another terrific cross from a Cunningham corner led to a goalmouth scramble and top-scorer Sawers poked the ball over line in the 85th minute of the contest.

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The Hawick players then produced a late rally to try and salvage a draw and their best chance of the afternoon came during injury time as a clearance by Brodie was blocked before Reekie hooked the ball off his own line.

Saints boss Robbie Raeside gesticulates on the touchlineSaints boss Robbie Raeside gesticulates on the touchline
Saints boss Robbie Raeside gesticulates on the touchline

United thus secured an important win in the race for promotion and they are now third - in the final promotion spot – with 43 points from 19 games.

They get a break from league duties this Saturday as they visit Glenrothes in the King Cup first round with kick-off at 2pm.

Meanwhile, St Andrews United under-20s lost 4-1 away to Armadale Thistle on a plastic pitch last Friday evening.

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Jaiden Muirhead gave the home side the lead right on the stroke of half-time before two goals in as many minutes from Jack Duncan and Scott Purves made the score 3-0.

Ben Wardrope added a fourth for Armadale in the 83rd minute but Will Reid notched a consolation for the young Saints as the game moved into injury time.