After the numerous matches and political posturing in recent weeks it’s nice to have a weekend when Scottish football is not all about the Old Firm. This weekend saw the Scottish Cup quarter finals take place and it’s a case of as you were really. All three matches that went ahead ended in score draws, forcing a series of replays to take place over the coming weeks. The Inverness v Celtic match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
The draw produced three all SPL ties with Dundee Utd hosting Motherwell, Aberdeen travelling to St Mirren and Inverness and Celtic locking horns in the Highlands. Perhaps the most intriguing tie though was Second Division side Brechin City hosting Premier League St Johnstone.
With Rangers knocked out in the previous round at least one non Old Firm side will be in the final in May (thank goodness). Given the draw, probably every side fancied their chances of getting to Hampden, including Inverness who have knocked Celtic out of cup competitions a number of times in recent history.
The quarter finals started with St Mirren v Aberdeen on Saturday lunchtime. The Dons are desperate to get their hands on some silverware after 16 years without a trophy and almost quarter of a century without winning the Scottish Cup. St Mirren meanwhile last lifted the trophy in 1987.
The match was played in freezing temperatures in Paisley and in large was pretty disappointing stuff. Lots of hustle and bustle, plenty punts up the park but no clear cut chances. After about an hour played players on both sides obviously realised that lashing a ball up field aimlessly doesn’t reap rewards and started to get the ball down on the deck and pass it about.
As such the quality of football was markedly improved and St Mirren took a deserved lead on 77 minutes when McGowan scored from a yard out after a knockdown from Higdon. St Mirren had further chances to win it with Langfield producing a series of great saves to keep Aberdeen in the game. Those saves proved vital as Rory McArdle fired home a 93rd minute equaliser to keep the Dons in the cup.
Next up on Saturday was Brechin v St Johnstone. The game was in doubt due to the wintery conditions that blasted the country on Friday. However Brechin fans turned up in force early in the morning to clear snow from the pitch to ensure the match went ahead.
Their efforts were rewarded as their charges put in a fine performance to earn a replay against the SPL side. Prolific striker Rory McAllister put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot in the first half, a lead they held onto until half time.
St Johnstone got back into the match in the second half when Chris Millar equalised with a scuffed volley. Brechin continued to press forward but Saints scored again when Danny Invincible headed home from a corner. McAllister had the last word though as the Aberdonian smashed home an equaliser to secure a replay.
In a repeat of one of the best ever Scottish Cup Finals, Dundee Utd and Motherwell clashed at Tannadice on Sunday afternoon. The two sides met in the final in 1991 and produced an epic seven goal thriller with Motherwell eventually lifting the trophy.
The two sides produced another cracking game this time round ending in a 2-2 draw. The visitors needed only a minute to open the scoring when striker John Sutton headed home a Stevie Hammell corner.
United upped the pace with Conway, Buaben and Goodwillie all going close to equalising. And it was the hugely promising David Goodwillie who eventually restored parity five minutes before half time with an acrobatic overhead kick from 14 yards.
Both sides continued to create chances in the second half with Motherwell’s Keith Lasley and United sub John Daly threatening to give their respective sides the lead.
However it was John Sutton who grabbed his and Motherwell’s second goals of the game when he prodded home at the back post after 72 minutes. The lead didn’t last long and United went straight up the pitch and equalised when Craig Conway’s cross was swept home by substitute Daly.