WRIGHT CUP FINAL
Ancrum 1 Hawick Legion 2
RARELY has Bridgend been compared to the Bernabeu, but when Hawick Legion manager Clinton Sharkey slid on his knees after his side’s shock Wright Cup win, it rekindled memories of a certain Mr Mourinho’s trademark celebration.
For Sharkey, this cup victory over Division B high-fliers Ancrum was as satisfying as any ever achieved by the self-proclaimed Special One.
Sharkey told TheSouthern: “The last 10 minutes was the most nerve wracking of my life since my wee boy was born.
“We were massive underdogs. We got relegated from Division A last season and a lot of people assumed we would be automatic favourites to go back up again, but that was never the case.
“We showed today we can compete with the best teams in the league. I have never been at a team as a player or manager where you are consistently getting good numbers at training, every week. The players deserve it.”
The reasons for this cup final being so heavily weighted in Ancrum’s favour were obvious. The villagers were Wright Cup holders and currently sit second in Division B, with just one defeat all season, while Legion are way down in eighth, having lost their last four games.
The fact that the tie was moved from Kelso to Ancrum’s Bridgend pitch due to Woodside Park being unplayable – both teams had agreed to the switch – added to the evidence that pointed to a comfortable Ancrum win.
Early on, it appeared the league form would be followed as Daniel Gillie’s electrifying pace caused problems for Hawick’s backline.
However, when it came to hitting the net, the youngster struggled, shooting wide on 12 minutes and then heading a Grant Robinson free kick straight at Legion goalkeeper Ally Willison.
The opener came on 20 minutes, but at the wrong end of the park for the Ancrum faithful.
Jory Robertson’s corner was volleyed home from close range by Peter Gellaitry, as the home side’s defence did not so much go to sleep, but went into a coma.
Ten minutes later came the match-defining moment. This time a penalty box stramash ended with Liam Gellaitry poking the ball at goal, only for Ancrum outfield player Steven Thomas to handle the ball off the line.
Ancrum argued Thomas had been behind the goal line when he made his save, but referee Jim Darling sent off the midfielder and awarded a spot kick, converted well by Callum Hope.
However, just as it appeared Hawick would stroll to victory, Davis Hope was sent off for a second yellow card nine minutes after the break.
With their numerical advantage over, Hawick all of a sudden appeared to get a bout of nerves.
And those nerves turned to panic when Ancrum’s Chris Johnson fired in from eight yards with 25 minutes remaining.
But the Ancrum onslaught never materialised, with their only clear-cut chance emerging on 83 minutes.
A series of deflections saw the ball lob into the path of Robinson eight yards out, but the former Gala Fairydean midfielder was denied by a brave Willison challenge.
The save highlighted the commitment of the Legion troops, and Sharkey and co did not have to wait long to begin their celebrations.
For Ancrum, manager Grant Davidson was magnanimous in defeat.
He told us: “The sending-off didn’t help, but Hawick Legion were the better team in the first half. They worked hard, got to the ball quicker than us, did all the right things and played to their strengths.
“They deserve to be the cup champions at the end.
“Our boys did well in the second half, but the two-goal lead was just a bit too much to get back.
“It is a tough one to take, but we will regroup and now go for promotion, which is our main aim.”
Ancrum: S. Jack, C. Scott, S. Tuddingham, G. McGovern, C. Johnson, C. Hall, G. Robinson, K. Chapman, D. Gillie, S. Spence, S. Thomas. Subs: C. Tibbits, C. Bell, J. Amos, N. McGuigan, E. Armstrong.
Hawick Legion: A. Willison, R. Snowdon, G. Moffat, D. Hope, P. Gellaitry, J. Easdon, D. Fraser, L. Gellaitry, C. Hope, J. Robertson, T. Scott. Subs: W. Monteith, A. McFarlane, C. Dunne, J. Shankie, J. Gillespie.