Falkirk 0-1 Heart of Midlothian
Saturday 8th February 2020, KO 19:21 | Scottish Cup 5th Round | Falkirk Stadium
Hearts battled their way into the quarter finals of the William Hill Scottish Cup after a victory over Falkirk tonight at the Falkirk Stadium.
Sean Clare’s second half penalty was the difference between the two sides in a match played in deplorable conditions amidst the onslaught of Storm Ciara, which battered Grangemouth for the duration of the 90 minutes.
Daniel Stendel had made four changes to the side that lost to Kilmarnock in midweek, with returns to the side for Clevid Dikamona, Michael Smith, Conor Washington and Ben Garuccio.
The first half was fairly uneventful as both teams struggled to impose themselves on proceedings due to the conditions, with the half’s best chance falling to Falkirk’s Josh Todd as he raced onto a long ball from keeper Robbie Mutch, which caught in the wind, and carried all the way through but Todd blazed over with the goal gaping.
Hearts grabbed their first shot on target just prior to the interval when Steven Naismith found Liam Boyce on the edge of the area, the Northern Irish forward spun on the ball and shot for goal, but Mutch got down to save.
The second half began at a frantic pace, and Hearts took the lead with their first attack. With the wind now at their back, Joel Pereira’s long ball down field found Boyce in space down the left. He burst into the area and was taken out by Michael Doyle, with a penalty being awarded.
Sean Clare stepped up and put the ball away beautifully, to grab his second goal in two games, and to give the soaked, windswept 2000 Jambos behind the goal something to celebrate. They responded by saluting Clare with a new song, which was well received by the player, who is in terrific form right now.
Falkirk came roaring back, though, and showed why they look good for promotion from League One. Firstly, from a corner, the ball broke to Declan McManus, and he swivelled to shoot but saw his shot rebound off Joel Pereira’s right hand post.
Moments later, McManus found space down the right side and took aim at goal but once again saw the ball rebound back off the same post, before Gary Miller then came just as close, as he strode forward into midfield and unleashed a rocket of a shot which bounced off the crossbar and away.
At this point, Hearts introduced Jamie Walker for Naismith, and at the same time, began to play a bit more securely, keeping possession better as Falkirk began to lose steam. Hearts continued to play on the break and should have sealed it when Boyce got into the box, shot across goal and the ball landed at the feet of sub Euan Henderson, who scooped it over the bar from six yards.
Irving then set up Walker for a shot from the edge of the box, but his effort was easily saved as Falkirk desperately looked to get forward, but a resolute Hearts defence saw the match out comfortably and commendably in the stormy weather to earn a place in the quarter finals for the third consecutive year.
Falkirk: Mutch, Doyle, Dixon, Buchanan, Durnan, Gomis (Longridge, 73'), Connolly (Telfer, 75'), McManus, G. Miller, Sammon (McMillan, 75'), Todd. Subs: Ferrie, McShane, De Vita, L. Miller.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Clare (Henderson, 72'), Washington (McDonald, 82'), Naismith (Walker, 61'), Garuccio, Halkett, Dikamona, Boyce, Langer, Irving. Subs: Zlamal, Ikpeazu, Damour, Moore.
Referee: John Beaton