QOS 0 Falkirk 1: Bairns are back at Hampden

06-03-2015. Picture Michael Gillen. DUMFRIES. Palmerston park. Queen of the South v Falkirk FC. The William Hill Scottish Cup, quarter final. Goal Craig Sibbald.
06-03-2015. Picture Michael Gillen. DUMFRIES. Palmerston park. Queen of the South v Falkirk FC. The William Hill Scottish Cup, quarter final. Goal Craig Sibbald.
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Falkirk had the wind in their sails and are on course for Hampden after a weather-assisted victory in Dumfries.

Wind buffeted much of the action at Palmerston Park, and with such unpredictable flight for the ball there was an element of risk and farce attached to much of the play.

But Craig Sibbald’s first half header gave the Bairns passage to their second Scottish Cup semi-final in three seasons and edged an match filled with drama.

Assuming it’s not against Berwick Rangers, the Bairns are set for their fifth National Stadium appearance since 2009.

But conditions made it testing. Streamers from the terracing caught on the wind and some were even scooped up over the stand given the strength of the gusts. Jamie MacDonald’s clearances were even catching and sailing out for goal kicks atr the opposite end of the stadium.

It was a relatively even opening. Falkirk were crowded out by Queens defence on the edge of the box while the home side also got at the defence but were flagged offside twice when homing in on ex-Doonhamer Jamie MacDonald.

They did though beat the linesman on the 15th minute when Iain Russell hit the by-line and his cut-back was deflected by MacDonald. The ball spun towards Michael Paton but David McCracken nipped in to boot clear.

Zander Clark was forced into action after 20 minutes when a trundling David Smith shot was in danger of sneaking inside his post but he pushed it wide. Whenever the ball threatened either box there was a wind-factor as it hung and spun in the air.

Falkirk earned a corner this very nway when Balir Alston’s seemingly weak free-kick confused the penalty box occupants and spun for a corner. That was booted high and hung in the air but was blasted over by Loy.

There was a freakish element to the goal when it came on 33 minutes from Craig Sibbald’s head. Luke Leahy drilled over a cross and it seemed to strike Sibbald’s head more than anything and it was enough to be blown into the net.

It remained that way until half-time though the dangers of the elements were evident to the Bairns. Jamie MacDonald though seemed adept with the ball at his feet early on.

Peter Grant headed a great chance from a Tom Taiwo corner wide on 56 minutes. From a corner at the other end Iain Russell had a fresh air swipe at a corner as the wind continued to wreak havoc.

There was none though for Queen’s best chance of the night just after the hour. Paton got the better of Kieran Duffie on the wing and crossed temptingly for Gavin Reilly but the dangerman for the Doonhamers headed into the covered terracing.

Blair Alston pulled a shot wide, Craig Sibbald was inches from connecting with a pass from David Smith, and Alston fired another effort at Clark.

Hearts were in mouths though when a loose ball broke into the path pof oncoming Gavin Reilly on 73 minutes. He caught it sweetly too, fired into the turf but straight at Jamie McDonald who held on confidently.

Peter Houston wound the clock down by first replacing Blair Alston with Liam Dick then Taylor Morgan replaced Rory Loy who picked up a knock.

Worse was to follow when Luke Leahy took a kick in the head from Peter Grant as both moved to clear danger from Jamie MacDonald’s six-yard box amnd the game was held up while he was treated and stretched off. Aaron Muirhead replaced the Englishman for his debut.

Queen’s had a late penalty shout and surrounded Kevin Clancy with appeals but it was not to be and after seven minutes of injury time Falkirk held on for Hampden.

QOS: Clark, Dowie, Durnan (Mitchell 75), Higgins, Holt, McShane, Burns (Carmichael 62), Kidd, Paton, Reilly (A.Smith), Russell. Subs: Atkinson, McKenna, Mitchell, Hooper, Pickard.

Falkirk: MacDonald, Duffie, Leahy (Muirhead 87), P.Grant, McCracken, Vaulks, Sibbald, Alston (Dick 80), Taiwo, D.Smith, Loy (Morgan 83). Subs: Bowman, Cooper, Maybury, Biabi.