SATURDAY’S all-action derby clash was a bruising encounter that had a bit of everything – goals, sending offs, bookings and plenty of passion.
With Waverley and Legion both in much need of a win in a bid to start climbing up the league, no quarter was given and none was asked from the respective sides. And with only a single goal separating the two old rivals, the result was in doubt until the final whistle. It ended up being Waverley’s day and this was just about right. They had that little bit extra and it was that little bit extra which pulled them through.
Giving his thoughts on the game, Waverley manager Mick Hope told the Hawick News: “It was a crucial match for both sides and it turned out to be a class one too. We deserved our win though as we were the better side overall.”
Hope went on: “Apart from taking our foot off the gas for a while, we were mainly on top. Legion battled hard and we have our goalkeeper Michael White to thank for pulling off two brilliant saves at vital times.
“I’m really thrilled to have clinched a win as getting three points has improved our league position, which has been our aim for a while.”
During a lively opening period, Simon Philbin had a chance to put Waverley ahead when a miscued kick out from Legion keeper Ewan Reilly broke his way. However, former Legion man Philbin shot wide. Legion came rallying back and Waverley number one Michael White excelled himself with a top-notch save in pushing away a Mark Philbin header from a Malcolm Cooper cross.
Legion kept up the pressure and opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Finding space down the right and noticing White was off his line, Luke Cooper quickly lofted in a high angled shot that floated into the far corner of the net.
With both sides striving hard in front of a big Wilton Lodge Park crowd, play continued at a brisk pace, and, with 19 minutes gone, Waverley equalised. Simon Philbin feeding Grant Ferguson who stuck away a shot as Reilly came out to challenge.
After White had done well to keep out a Mark Philbin free kick, Waverley edged ahead in the 25th minute. Kevin McGaughey swinging over a corner kick which was palmed away by Reilly, and the lurking Taylor Hope produced a good piece of opportunism in driving away a shot.
With 34 minutes gone, Waverley added to their tally. The ever-improving Scott Craig dashing down the left before hitting over a cross. And with Legion at sixes and sevens, Ferguson layed off a pass to McGaughey who fired past Reilly.
Legion heads did not drop though and two minutes from the interval they reduced the leeway. Waverley’s Jamie Richardson jostled with Dean McColm in the penalty box, after which Coldstream referee Kevin Home pointed to the spot.
Mark Philbin strode up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake with a well-placed shot.
In what was to be a no-scoring second half, Legion were first to threaten when Luke Cooper sent an effort wide of the target.
Following a flurry of bookings, David Battle saved the day for Legion in clearing a Jordan Yardley header off the line, from a Mark Deans throw-in. Ross McLeod then troubled Legion with a bustling run, before firing in a shot that Reilly did well to block. White, in turn, proved his worth at the other end, saving a Luke Cooper drive in fine style.
Within minutes of this, Legion were reduced to ten men when the hard-working Bryan Tait, who had been in the thick of things throughout, was dismissed for a second bookable offence. Legion continued to strive for an equaliser though and Battle almost produced the goods when shooting just past the post. Two minutes from time, Malcolm Cooper, who had been cautioned earlier, picked up another booking, which led to him being given his marching orders by referee Home.
Commenting afterwards, Legion co-manager Zeb Stewart said: “We’ve played only one game since November and this showed as we looked a bit rusty. The boys battled hard though and I thought Bryan Tait was immense for us.
“The breaks never seemed to go our way and we were unlucky at times. But Waverley looked the sharper side and played well.”
“It was a disappointing result as we really needed the points,” added Stewart. “But we’ll just have to pick ourselves up and get on with it.”
HAWICK WAVERLEY: M. White, S. Sharkey, S.Craig, C. Wilson, J. Richardson, K. McGaughey, M. Deans, T. Hope, S. Philbin, G. Ferguson, B. Shiel. Subs: J. Yardley, R. McLeod, C. Hope, S. Marshall, A. King.
HAWICK LEGION: A. Reilly, D. Battle, C. Brown, M. Cooper, N. McConnell, B. Tait, D. McColm, P. Gellaitry, I. Cooper, R. McConnell, M. Philbin. Subs: S. Aries, L. Gellaitry, S. Duncan