It would appear Spartans manager Dougie Samuel has pulled another rabbit out of the hat with the recent capture of striker Jack Hay.
The 22-year-old made it eight goals in three games since joining from Lowland League rivals Gala Fairydean Rovers last month – four of those coming in Saturday’s 9-1 demolition of Hawick Royal Albert.
And the frontman also revealed the club is still to see the best of him as he battles back from a knee injury picked up at the beginning of September.
“You can never be disappointed with scoring four goals but there’s always room for improvement,” Hay said. “I’m only back from injury having been out for six weeks, but I’ve now scored eight goals in three games and only one of those matches I started.
“It feels really good to be scoring goals again and I’m enjoying my football at Spartans. We’re working hard as a team so we want to push on from here. Things weren’t going too well at Gala, but that’s in the past now.”
Samuel had spoken of the visitors’ threat prior to Saturday’s encounter given that they had eliminated SPFL League 2 outfit Berwick Rangers from the William Hill Scottish Cup the previous weekend.
Spartans, too, had overcome tricky Highland League opponents in Huntly to progress and they started brightly upon their return to league business.
A hesitant Hawick defence afforded Craig Johnston time to find his feet in the box and he shot past stand-in goalkeeper Kerr Brown for a seventh-minute opener.
Things went from bad to worse for the Borders side. Ryan Stevenson’s wayward pass was picked up by Craig Stevenson, whose ball over the top sought the run of Hay and he applied the finish to make it two after 11 minutes. Hawick were all over the place and couldn’t cope with the directness of the home side.
Another lofted pass over the top saw Scott Maxwell bear down on goal, but this time Brown was equal to the task and prevented what looked a sure third of the afternoon.
Maxwell, however, did find himself on the scoresheet just minutes later, his in-swinging corner from the right catching out Brown at the near post as the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Hay notched his second nine minutes before the break having collected Johnston’s pass to outfox Brown with a shot that went in via the post.
Hay turned provider just six minutes after the restart, picking out the run of substitute Andrew Mair, who finished with aplomb.
Jamie Dishington made it six with a header following Stevenson’s cross from the left before the visitors netted a consolation – although it actually came from the boot of Spartans defender Paul Thomson, who deflected Ryan Stevenson’s cross into his own net.
Hay added number seven and eight of the afternoon with two clinical finishes before Igor Gabiola finished off a well-constructed move involving Craig Stevenson and Hay.
Samuel hailed the impact of his new signing and said: “We’re really pleased with the start Jack has made and the good news is that he’s not fully fit yet.
“It’s definitely one of our best performances of the season. The difference was that we took our chances because we’ve dominated a few games and had a lot of attempts on goal but just not put the ball in the net.”
Spartans: Carswell, Herd, Maxwell, Ward (Mair 47), Thomson, Greenhill, Stevenson, Johnston (Gabiola 41), Townsley, Dishington (Malone 68), Hay. Subs not used: Rae, Watson, Comrie.
Hawick Royal Albert: Brown, Stevenson, Spence, Johnson, Sonkur, Conaghan (Crease 74), McPartlin, Meikle, Morris (Mitchell 83), McInally, Hunter (Pettigrew 61). Sub not used: Darling.