Hawick Leg. Rovers2
The surrounding hills were covered in snow, there was a bitter wind and it was freezing cold ... it was certainly a winter’s day.
On the pastures of Victoria Park, however, the heat was on, for despite the arctic conditions, both sides generated some warmth by producing loads of commitment, as well as some surprisingly good football in this Waddell Cup encounter.
Although not the eightsome reel that the result suggests, Leithen Rovers nevertheless danced their way into the second round of the competition through a barrage of goals, including three penalties.
It was Hawick Legion Rovers, however, who drew first blood when breaking the deadlock with just six minutes gone. On a pitch that had been cleared of snow an hour before kick-off, Sean Clarke latched onto a loose ball and, with what appeared to be remarkable ease, chipped a shot high into the net from 25 yards out.
Spurred on by this, the Teries almost notched a second when Thomas Scott had a net-bound shot blocked by a defender after connecting with a Jordan Caldwell free kick.
Legion Rovers continued to push forward, but it was the men from Innerleithen who equalised in the 20th minute. Jory Robertson brought down Alan McMath in the box and referee Craig Lowrie awarded a penalty, which Peter Shearlaw tucked away with great precision.
After Colin Turnbull came to Legion’s aid, hooking a McMath shot off the goal-line, Matthew Scott rattled the upright for the home side with an angled drive.
In the 36th minute, Leithen Rovers edged ahead through a second penalty, Shearlaw again doing the business with another perfectly-placed shot.
Within five minutes, they added to their tally when Legion failed to clear a Shearlaw corner kick and Thomas Fleming stepped in to thunder his shot into the net.
On the stroke of half-time Leithen keeper Chris Watson denied the visitors a second, pulling off a fine save from Michael Moir.
With seven minutes of the second period gone, Leithen grabbed another counter from the penalty spot.
Thomas Fleming did the business this time after Turnbull upended an attacker.
Just past the hour mark, Hawick reduced the leeway. In a sweeping raid, Chay Caldwell was attempting to round the home keeper when he was flattened by him. The referee waved play on, though, as the ball had broken into the path of Moir, who shot into the empty net.
Although the playing surface was now nothing more than a quagmire, the action continued at a lively pace and in the 71st minute Thomas Fleming completed his hat-trick, rattling away a Paul Scott cross.
Minutes later, Hawick fell into further arrears when Scott Leitch swung over a free kick and Neil MacVicar did the rest, scoring with an excellent glancing header.
Leithen were in the driving seat and MacVicar powered home a header in meeting a Darren Thomson cross.
Seconds from time, Leitch got amongst the goals when waltzing his way through several challenges in a crowded goalmouth before firing home.
After the game, Leithen hat-trick ace Thomas Fleming told The Southern: “Conditions were bad, but both sides got on with it and it was a competitive match.
“Full credit to Hawick. They are two divisions below us, but they battled all the way and didn’t deserve to lose by six goals.
“It was good to get a hat-trick as I don’t get many at my age,” he added.