This weekend saw the Scottish Cup quarter finals take place, with a few big games providing revenge, derby drama, controversy and some decent goal fly in!
Hamilton 1 – Falkirk 2
The all Division 1 encounter brought Steven Pressley’s Falkirk to Hamilton for a cracking game. Both sides with the reputation for bringing in good young players on a very limited budget, didn’t let anyone down.
Falkirk were first to threaten in front of a healthy travelling support at New Douglas Park, Stewart Murdoch seeing his shot deflected over, but after that Hamilton took charge of the early exchanges and were winning the individual battles across the park.
The Bairns took the lead when a great counter attacking move saw Lyle Taylor pick out Grant on the right hand side and he presented Alston with an easy chance which he duly tucked away from two yards. The man of the moment Alston looked to have the game won with 20 minutes left from a goal fit to win any cup tie. A corner from the left was headed away by Martin Canning, but Alston thumped a simply brilliant shot right into the top corner that very few goalkeepers would have got near. It was a strike that Franky Lampard would have been proud of!! Andy Ryan hauled Hamilton back into the game minutes later, but was kicking himself after blowing a golden chance to level with 10 minutes left.
Jonathan Page was sent off as an Accies onslaught failed to earn a replay.
St Mirren 1 – Celtic 2
This match gave Celtic the chance to extract some revenge on the 3-1 win at Hampden a few weeks ago, which seen the Buddies head for a Cup Final show down with Hearts.
The New St Mirren Park was buzzing and the shine was shining, perfect conditions for a cup tie! St Mirren started well and looked confident, while Celtic looked good on the break. James Forrest has recently returned from injury and tortured the Saints back line, he set up Joe Joe super Joe, super Joe LEDLEY who slotted home from 6 yards. Ledley who has been stand in captain for the past few weeks in Browns absence, has stepped up his performance and added goals!!
St Mirren levelled and it was through their loan signing Goncalves. Izaguirre looked to have Lee Mair’s long diagonal ball covered but, under pressure from Steven Thompson, the Honduran’s unsure first header was followed by a catastrophic one as he knocked it over onrushing keeper Fraser Forster, leaving Goncalves to nod into an empty net. Having now seen Goncalves for 2 months, he has left a top 6 side in Portugal for regular football and he has impressed in doing so. I think the English Championship will be his next destination as St Mirren will not be able to afford to make the deal permanent.
Celtic took the lead again with a fantastic move from the training ground, 4 bounces of the ball from Forrest at the corner flag was the signal for a Stokes and Hooper switch in the box. Hooper darted out for the short corner which he returned to Forrest who deftly floated the ball over Samsons head to the back post to find the unmarked Stokes who nodded home to the delight of players, fans and manager!!
Saints’ midweek goal hero Graham Carey replaced Paul McGowan and, with 10 minutes remaining, he forced Forster into an excellent diving save from a whipped free-kick.
Kelvin Wilson cleared well from Gary Teale’s cross in the closing stages, with the ensuing St Mirren corner presenting Mair with a great chance at the back post, but the defender could only slam in into the side-netting.
And it proved to be the home side’s last opportunity as Celtic progressed to the semi-final stage, bringing a scrappy second half to a close.
The Dundee Derby was a 3rd 2-1 away win of the weekend and Dundee Utd over the piece deserved the win.
United took the lead from a free-kick won by Mackay-Steven, when the in the build up the linesman missed the ball clearly going out of play. Despite this the play went on with the tricky winger being fouled, the cross came in and Brian McLean headed United into the lead early on. Jim McAlister fired the hosts level but the visitors led at the break with the influential ex-Liverpool trainee Gary Mackay-Steven sweeping the ball under the body of Rab Douglas at the end of a swift counter-attack. The second poor piece of goalkeeping I have seen from Big rab in the last 2 weeks.
Dundee’s Davide Grassi almost put the ball in his own net but Douglas prevented the own goal, in what is likely to be Douglas’s last Tayside derby.
The Dundee boss Bomber Brown has came out after the match to criticise the match officials but in fairness I don’t think his side done enough during the match to win, however goals change games and he needs all the luck going if he is going to turn Dundee’s poor form around.
Kilmarnock 2 – 4 Hibernian
Leigh Griffiths was the Hibernian hero again after his hat-trick against Kilmarnock sent the Leith men bouncing happily into the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.
In a pulsating match at Rugby Park, Griffiths opened the scoring in the 15th minute only for James Dayton to equalise.
Matt Done restored Hibs’ lead in the 39th minute before Paul Heffernan slammed in a penalty to level again. But Griffiths was not to be denied as he notched twice more, the second from the spot, with Killie ending the match with 10 men after defender Ross Barbour was sent off late on for a tug on the on-loan Wolves player at the edge of the box.
Hibs, who famously have not won the tournament since 1902, will join Celtic, Dundee United and First Division Falkirk in tomorrow’s draw at Hampden and it is mostly down to Griffiths, who celebrated his first professional hat-trick.
Watching Leigh tear up defences all season for Hibs makes me question why Wolves in their current plight would let a very talented forward go out on loan, or more to the point not recall him in January. ATTITUDE is the answer, by all accounts and newspaper reports combined…….he is “aff his nut” and needs to stay focused on his football. If he does? Well I believe he can have a similar impact as Steven Fletcher for club and country.
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