Civil Service Strollers manager Alex Cunningham has told his players to “take a long and hard look at themselves” in wake of Saturday’s 6-2 William Hill Scottish Cup first-round replay defeat by Lowland League rivals Hawick Royal Albert.
The Capital outfit spurned the opportunity of a second-round clash with League 2 opposition Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park later this month having snatched a draw last weekend in north Edinburgh to earn a second bite at the cherry.
In truth, the home side were streets ahead in the Borders and the outcome never really looked in doubt after both Kris Mitchell and Josh Morris – the latter would help himself to four goals over the course of the afternoon – had the hosts two up inside 18 minutes.
“The first half really killed us. To go a goal down so early, we hadn’t even gotten out of the traps. That just set the tone for the game as we just never got going and didn’t defend well at all,” Cunningham admitted.
“The players really need to have a long hard look at themselves because they didn’t give enough. I don’t think there is enough passion being shown but all credit to Hawick as I thought they were really good early doors and they deserved the victory.
“It’s very difficult to take (not getting to play Berwick) as it would have been great for the club to have got there but that’s football and we don’t deserve to be there after that performance.
“I thought there was a wee chance at 4-2 as we were in the ascendancy and then we give away an absolute stupid goal with two experienced players going for the ball and neither one of them gets it. So that knocked the stuffing out of us.”
A sluggish start really left the visitors with a mountain to climb, both Mitchell and Morris capitalising on some weak defending to put Hawick in touching distance of the second round inside the opening 20 minutes.
Jordan Finnie was doing his utmost to find a route back into the tie and did well to set up strike partner Steven Froude, who should have at least got his shot on target after finding space inside the home side’s penalty box.
However, Morris was once again allowed ample time to size up a shot on Stuart Burnside’s goal and his angled drive spun into the far corner to put Hawick three-up.
A Froude header should have seen the net bulge but instead Strollers’ day went from bad to worse when a long clearance from Hawick No.1 Kyle Rankin bounced over a static defence and allowed Morris to nip in and draw a challenge from keeper Burnside. The referee somehow deemed it to be illegal when the contact appeared more of a collision and Morris dusted himself down to complete a first-half hat-trick from 12 yards.
Froude passed up a gilt-edged chance six minutes after the restart when he somehow put his shot wide from six yards with the goal gaping before Matt Cunningham’s header gave Strollers something to work with.
Froude then halved the deficit just minutes later with a stunning 30-yard strike that saw, for the first time in the match, the momentum swing in visitors’ favour.
That renewed optimism was short-lived however as Morris effectively ended Strollers’ Scottish Cup journey with a fifth for Hawick from close range before Mitchell was rewarded for his persistence when he drove across the box and sent an unstoppable swerving effort into Burnside’s top-right hand corner.
There was even time for Morris to drag a shot wide and miss taking his personal tally to five.
Hawick Royal Albert: Rankin, Stevenson (Begbie 86), Spence, Johnson, Smeaton (Boyd 83), Meikle, Hunter, McPartlin, Morris (Pettigrew 80), Mitchell, McInally. Sub: Aitkin.
Civil Service Strollers: Burnside, Laird, Dingwall, Turnbull, Milven, Cunningham, Milligan, Downie (Pacheco 60), Froude, Finnie (Anderson 60), Boyle. Subs: Ballantyne, Watson, Clapperton.