Preston Athletic manager Craig Nisbet singled out praise for winger Robbie Carter as his side climbed off the bottom of the Lowland League with a 2-1 victory over Hawick Royal Albert.
Preston’s win, just their third this term, coupled with Selkirk’s 6-0 loss at home to Spartans, has moved the Panners off the foot of the division at the Borders club’s expense.
Nisbet had demanded a response from his players following a dismal showing at BSC Glasgow more than a fortnight ago, the 8-3 defeat deemed “totally unacceptable” by the furious head coach.
And having been left idle last weekend, Nisbet used the time wisely to strengthen his squad with the addition of 21-year-old Carter on loan from Junior outfit Dalkeith Thistle.
“We’ve brought in Robbie and you can see the quality he’s got. For me he was man of the match by a mile,” Nisbet said. “I thought he took a wee bit of time to get into the game in but once he did he was magnificent. We’ve got him on loan until the end of the season but you can see he’s got bags of energy, lots of skill. He looks interested as he’s been to every training session and he gets on well with everyone.”
On the precious three points and Preston’s first win in the league since October, Nisbet added: “I asked for a response from the BSC game and I got one. It takes that wee bit of pressure off us. We showed a wee bit of grit, it wasn’t pretty and there were a lot of niggles in the game which I think came from the stand. Fair play to Hawick, they battled hard the whole of the second half and had a couple of chances.
“We’ve got to go and build on this and show the same desire and effort. We can now go to Dalbeattie with a bit more confidence. At least at training tonight it won’t be a post-mortem so we can now work on things without a defeat lingering over our heads.”
It was the visitors, though, who should have grabbed the initiative as early as the fourth minute when Kenneth Erskine needlessly conceded possession 20 yards from his own goal which allowed Gavin Pettigrew to feed striker Josh Morris who should have at least hit the target with just Craig Pennycuick to beat.
Morris again passed up another fantastic opportunity just moments later but could only shoot straight at the Preston No.1 having been sent through by Chris Hughes.
The hosts gradually began to show some purpose and went ahead five minutes before the interval, with Hawick’s coaching staff lambasting referee Colin Whyte for his part in the goal.
Shaun Meikle was in possession just inside his own half when Whyte appeared to get in the way of the midfielder which allowed Fabio Neto to surge through on goal, the striker rounding keeper Kyle Rankin and rolling the ball home from a tight angle.
The match swung in the hosts’ favour once more just two minutes later as Hughes was given his marching orders for scything down Stuart Ritchie as the Preston No.10 threatened to add a second.
Preston’s Gavin Stevenson was inches away with a thunderous effort from 25 yards but the visitors drew level a minute before the interval – Morris making no mistake this time around from eight yards out.
Carter then almost made a telling impact on his debut but could only shoot straight at Rankin.
Chances were at a premium in the second half, Hawick’s Kris Mitchell’s angled drive almost finding the top corner.
But it was the East Lothian outfit who would claim all three points when Neto’s clever turn and pass in the box was lashed into the net by substitute Neil Shave who had just entered the fray 60 seconds beforehand.
Preston Athletic: Pennycuick, Erskine, Cochrane, McLeod, Cowan, Innes (Stevenson 36), Carter, Henderson (Shave 73), Neto, Ritchie, Lawson (Jardine 60). Subs: Callan, Law, Siegel, Baines.
Hawick Royal Albert: Rankin, Johnson, McPartlin, Sonkur, Hughes, Conaghan, Stevenson, Meikle, Morris, Mitchell, Pettigrew (Crease 80) Subs: Spence, Hunter, Boyd.