WHEN Edinburgh City and Buckie Thistle were paired together in the Scottish Cup first round they must have thought the fact they were non-league teams would create lots of interest. An appearance on Sportscene, the odd feature or two on the romance of the cup and maybe a moment of glory for one of their players all loomed large on the horizon.

In fact, all of that might have been true if the good old Scottish weather hadn't taken a hand and forced the cancellation of three attempts to stage the game.

From having their match on a Saturday afternoon with radio updates broadcast nationwide, they were forced to play their first round tie at Meadowbank Stadium last night five days before Christmas in front of 296 fans, fewer than the burger bar across the road pulls in.

Of the two teams, you had to feel most sorry for Buckie as, up until an hour or so before kick-off, they were still hoping that their full squad would turn up.

The majority had got on the team bus from the north-east town but in good old non-league tradition, substitutes Stuart Reid had to sit an end of term accountancy exam at Robert Gordon's in Aberdeen around mid-day while Jim Milne had to do a shift in the leisure centre at the Marriot Hotel before making their own way to the capital.

The Highland league team, formed in 1889, seemed to have the more experienced players in their ranks, and in their green and white hooped shirts you could be forgiven for thinking that Martin O'Neill had sent a second eleven through to the capital.

Although the Celtic connection is strong, with the Parkhead club turning up at Victoria Park 11 years ago to play in a game to mark Buckie's centenary, one of the best players in their ranks, Levi Stephen, 26, has strong connections with the other half of the Old Firm.

He once played for the Ibrox club in a friendly against

Dunfermline in a side which included Ally McCoist and Ian Durrant before moving to

Australia to play for Parramatta.

He returned a few months ago and last night found himself the main driving force in the team which also included ex-Rangers squad players Scott Anderson and goalkeeper Michael Rae.

Edinburgh City also had the usual mix of part-time players, like roofer Alan Mackintosh, who plays in goal, and Symon Scott, an investment dealer in Glasgow, in their ranks.

They no doubt felt home advantage would benefit them, and the side fielded by Gordon Wilson, the manager, still contains a few experienced players who were in the side who were beaten 7-2 in the third round of the Scottish Cup by Dunfermline three years ago.

There was an eerie silence surrounding the whole affair, and it wasn't helped that the giant scoreboard kept flashing up the mysterious slogan ''Born - Again Into Darkness'', a statement which was never explained.

The game did have its lighter moments, and certainly it's not often you see a goalkeeper having to run through a shot-putt circle to take a free-kick close to the byeline as Thistle keeper Rae had to do early on.

In truth, the pitch looked like a hundred Russian shot putters had thrown their putts onto it as it was in a terrible condition, pock-marked in places making control difficult.

In the end, Buckie won thanks to a fourth minute goal from winger Charlie Rowley, who lobbed Alan Mackintosh, the City goalkeeper, in what was one of the few highlights of a pretty dire affair.

The effort of both sides was commendable, but on such an appaling pitch it became evident that the early strike was always going to settle the game and secure a home match against Hamilton in the second round.

City created only a handful of half-chances, and the fact that Chris Summerville, described as a hard-tackling midfielder in the excellent club programme, lived up to his name and got himself sent-off after two bookable offences after an hour, meant that Meadowbank was always going to be left to its athletic meetings rather than Scottish Cup football for the rest of the season.

Edinburgh City - Mackintosh, Burrell, Ferry, Scott, Foster, Edgar, Salton, Summerville, O'Donnell, Hartley, Seeley. Substitutes - Rennie, Blair, Irving, Ewart, Miller.

Buckie Thistle - Rae, Grant, Lamberton, Anderson, McPherson, Rattray, Rowley, Stephen, Thompson, Bruce, Craik. Substitutes - Stewart, Matheson, Milne, Davidson, Reid.

Referee - Craig Thomson.