Dundee, having already been eliminated from one cup competition by lower league opposition earlier this season, ensured there was no such repeat as they proceeded into the fifth round of the Scottish Cup last night with a thoroughly professional display to see off the threat of Falkirk at Dens Park.
Paul Hartley’s Premiership side had striker Kane Hemmings, who took his tally for the season to 15, to thank in no small measure for goals in either half of this rescheduled tie before a glorious Gary Harkins finish in 73 minutes secured an away tie against Dumbarton in the next round.
Falkirk, who’d perhaps quietly fancied their chances of progressing such has been their impressive domestic form in the Championship, had briefly threatened to do so when Paul Watson equalised just before half-time, but it was the hosts who prevailed in the end having endured the obvious disappointment of losing to League One side Dunfermline in the League Cup some months ago.
There was a sense of relief as the tie went ahead having initially been postponed over two weeks prior to last night because of an unplayable pitch, and in between times the Tayside club had successful relaid part of the surface which had also caused their league with Celtic over the festive period to be called off.
Peter, Houston, the Falkirk manager, savoured cup success with Dundee United back in 2010 when he led his former club to get their hands on the famous old trophy and the hosts knew this would be anything but an easy night.
Dundee, mindful of the fact they were sent spinning out of the League Cup 3-1 by Dunfermline back in August, needed no reminding about the potential pitfalls.
For the wary hosts, Bulgarian Kostadin Gadzhalov came in for their recent recruit, Darren O’Dea, who was ineligible.
Falkirk, who’d had drawn 1-1 with Livingston in the league the previous weekend, were missing influential defender Peter Grant, but still began the brighter side with Aaron Muirhead knocking a shot narrowly wide from Craig Sibbald’s corner
Midway through the first-half, Sibbald set up team-mate Will Vaulks and his shot from 22-yards was held by Scott Bain, the home keeper.
Dundee were struggling to find any sort of rhythm amid the swirling wind but they took the lead somewhat against the run of play in 39 minutes.
Hemmings, defying the visitors’ claims for offside, ran onto Greg Stewart’s through pass and retained his composure to clip the ball over visiting keeper Danny Rogers and into the net via the underside of the bar.
However, their lead was short-lived as Watson equalised three minutes later.
Paul McGowan lost possession which allowed the Championship side to break at speed which the home team couldn’t cope with.
Bulgarian Gadzhalov appeared to hesitate, allowing John Baird sufficient time to square the ball for Watson who stroked it calmly into the net from close-range.
Dundee, though, stepped things up after the break to regain the lead on the hour mark.
Paul McGinn, their full-back, crossed perfectly to the far post where Hemmings took it in his stride and knocked the ball home from less than a yard out.
Then, in 73 minutes, they killed the tie as Hemmings’ measured cross was met by Harkins whose sweet shot from just outside the box left Rogers with no chance.
Stewart hit the post late on for the home team but by then their passage to the next round had been assured in the most astute manner.
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