Falkirk 0 Hearts 1: Woodwork woes for the Bairns in William Hill Scottish Cup

Falkirk struck the goal-frame three times in the second half but were forced out of the William Hill Scottish Cup by Sean Clare's penalty.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 9:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th February 2020, 10:12 pm
Joel Pereira tries to gather for Hearts. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The Hearts midfielder was given the chance form the spot just after the interval after Michael Doyle fouled Liam Boyce.

But it was a brave Bairns perfromance that saw Declan McManus hit the post twice in as many minutes and then Gary Miller thunder a long-range effort of Joel Pereira's crossbar.

The talking point though, as well as the post, was the pouring rain. The game seemed in doubt for those travelling with the downpour and driving winds of Storm Ciara causing concern, but after John Beaton and his officiating team assesed the pitch and the ball under the conditions the game went ahead without issue.

Gregor Buchanan was bundled over when meeting Josh Todd's free-kick. Picture: Michael Gillen.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Live Matchday BlogThe second half saw some intense rainfall but the game saw out the full 90 minutes despite the monsoon.

Hearts started the brighter, but Falkirk more than held their own in the first half, and ended the first 45 minutes as the better team.

How Josh Todd missed another gilt-edged chance after two last week against Stranraer only he will know.

He raced onto a long kick from Robbie Mutch seven minutes before half-time in what was the game's best opportunity. Clevid Dikamona failed to deal with it and Todd ran one-on-one with Joel Pereira, but screwed his strike wide of the near post with Hearts retreating at pace.

Lee Miller and David McCracken. Picture: Michael Gillen.

It was Falkirk's chance after they held out against Steven Naismith and Liam Boyce in attack and Sean Clare's threat from the right-side.

Robbie Mutch though was rarely tested of note despite the threat. A 16th minute cross flashed across his goal and Gregor Buchanan made a fresh air swipe to clear. The return at the other side is flicked away by Paul Dixon and the Bairns in the south stand were relieved.

The Bairns support was noisy and boisterous throughout - just like Lee Miller and David McCracken were used to in their previous spell at the club and the players gave a performance to match - but only after falling behind in the second half.

Having been bogged down in the first period unable to mount an attack for 20 minutes and then gradually growing into the game, the Bairns burst out of the traps after their half-time team-talk from the duo - as has been their trait this season.

Scorer Sean Clare was booked for this cynical clip on McManus. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Conor Sammon went close early on but then on Hearts' first foray up the field after the interval Michael Doyle pushed Liam Boyce over and John beaton gave the penalty. Clare beat Mutch who dived to his left but rather than let heads drop, the goal ignited Falkirk who struck the woodwork three times within the next eight minutes.

First Gregor Buchanan's header was hooked onto the upright by Declan McManus on the goal-line and then Buchanan's follw-up was blocked at point-blank range.

Hearts scrambled clear but McManus was sent scampering down the right again and he shot across Pereira and onto the same post, still rattling from the chance moments earlier. Todd this time couldn't convert the rebound.

Pereira was afforded a breather before Gary Miller struck a rasping 30-yard drive that sailed onto the crossbar as the Stadium held its' breath.

Josh Todd sprinted clear and shot... Picture: Michael Gillen.

Then the rain began and both sides became bogged down in battling not just one another, a slippery ball and the conditions. Hearts substitute Euan Henderson also scooped a close range effort just over from six yards out.

Falkirk tried to maintain the impetus they'd built in the aftermath of conceding with fresh legs from David McMillan, Charlie Telfer and Louis Longridge but they failed to muster as much as they had just after the penalty and in a scene familiar to many campaigns over the last decade and more, they bravely bowed out of the competition after an almighty effort fell just short.

... but it was well wide. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Declan McManus and ex-Bairn Andrew Irving. Picture: Michael Gillen.
Gary Miller. Picture: Michael Gillen.