South Cup final beckons after Rovers’ bright show

Goalmouth action from the South Cup semi-final at Victoria Park
Goalmouth action from the South Cup semi-final at Victoria Park

Leithen Rovers4

Hawick Waverley2

The sun shone over Victoria Park on Saturday and on the pitch itself, Leithen Rovers did their own particular style of shining.

For Rovers gave a radiant show, booking their place in the final of the South of Scotland Cup with a clear-cut victory.

It was a performance that delighted manager Paul Graham, who told The Southern: “We thoroughly deserved our win as we were the better side.

“Our boys were up for the game a lot more than the Hawick guys.

“Apart from being annoyed with the way we lost two silly goals, I can’t fault our performance.

“It’s great to be in the final of the South of Scotland Cup. I am finishing with the Rovers at the end of the season, so to win the South Cup would be a brilliant way to go out.”

On a park which was in remarkably good condition for this time of the season, Alan McMath had the ball in the net for Leithen in the ninth minute following a Simon Philbin free kick. The goal was chalked off, however, due to a foul on Hawick keeper Ali Willison.

Within two minute, though, Rovers did grab the lead.

Taking a free kick 35 yards out, Hagen Steele unleashed a rasping drive that sailed past the diving Willison into the bottom corner of the net.

In the 24th minute, Waverley drew level when Peter Gellaitry brushed off a John Couper challenge and ran in to place a shot out of the reach of Rovers number one Chris Watson.

The remainder of the first half brought about few goalmouth incidents or scoring opportunities.

With three minutes of the second period gone, however, Rovers went ahead again. On being fed by a Steele pass, Tom Fleming whipped over a cross that found the target.

Leithen had their tails up now and in the 56th minute struck again. Fleming threaded a pass to the feet of Philbin, who did a shimmy past a defender to fire home.

Rovers were well and truly in the driving seat and it came as no real surprise when the Innerleithen side added to their tally in the 77th minute when Andy Hardie floated a free kick high into the goalmouth with great precision and Couper bulleted the ball into the net with his head.

Six minutes from time Waverley reduced the leeway when Jamie Richardson produced the scoring touch in nodding in a Luke Cooper corner kick at the far post.

Although the game was now as good as over, Waverley battled away and in the closing stages Cooper and Liam Lavery both blazed efforts over the bar.

Expressing his thoughts on the game, Waverley goalscorer Gellaitry said: “It was an even first half, but after Leithen had scored two goals in 10 minutes at the beginning of the second period we were chasing the game.

“Leithen deserved their win as they were the better side on the day,” he added.