AS THE eight teams left in this year’s renewal of the Scottish League Cup prepare to do battle over the next two nights, we look back at 20 memorable quarter-finals ties from the past 30 years.
This week’s ties are Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Dundee United tonight and 24 hours later, Morton v St Johnstone, Motherwell v Aberdeen and the capital derby between Hibernian and Hearts. Following the surprise exits of Rangers and Celtic, the competition is guaranteed another non-Old Firm winner after the triumphs for Kilmarnock in 2012 and St Mirren earlier this year.
If this week’s four games can produce the same excitement as some of the previous years then we are in for a treat. The 1983-84 season had no quarter-finals, as the stage before the semi-finals was then played in a group format, so taking 1984-85 as a starting point here are 20 of the best . . .
5 September, 1984
Meadowbank Thistle 2, St Johnstone 1
The capital’s third side continued their impressive path through the League Cup rounds, by beating St Johnstone in front of 2,699 fans at Meadowbank Stadium - a decent crowd by their standards for the Commonwealth Games venue. Meadowbank had already shocked Morton in the first round, then embarrassed near neighbours Hibs in the following round, but after their memorable victory over Saints, they lost 4-0 to Rangers in the semi-finals.
4 September, 1985
Hibernian 4, Celtic 4 (Hibs won 4-3 on penalties)
One of the best cup ties ever seen at Easter Road. Hibs and Celtic traded goals in a pulsating Skol Cup encounter. John Blackley’s side were behind after two minutes when Mo Johnston scored but hit back through Stevie Cowan and Gordon Durie. Davie Provan made it 2-2 at half-time before Colin Harris restored Hibs’ lead. Johnston levelled to take the game into extra-time, and although Roy Aitken put Celtic ahead Durie made it 4-4 and forced the game into penalties. After a nervy shoot-out, Celtic’s Pearce O’Leary was the man who missed the crucial kick and Hibs celebrated a place in the semi-finals. A twist in the tale was that Celtic returned to Easter Road just days later and thumped Hibs 5-0 in the league!
2 September, 1987
Dundee 2, Dundee United 1
Dundee, still hurting from their 1980 League Cup final defeat to arch-rivals United, gained a modicum of revenge with this quarter-final win at Dens against the Tangerines. Tommy Coyne and Keith Wright were a deadly strike partnership for Dundee at this time and they got a goal apiece as the Dark Blues triumphed after extra-time. Iain Ferguson was the scorer for United.
4 September, 1990
Rangers 6, Raith Rovers 2
Throughout the Eighties and Early Nineties, Rangers dominated the League Cup, and this thumping win over Raith Rovers at Ibrox put them on their way to another trophy, which they lifted at Hampden by beating Celtic 2-1 in the final. Ally McCoist was predictably Rangers’ hero in the quarter-final, bagging a hat-trick, while the other scorers were Mo Johnston, Terry Butcher and Trevor Steven.
3 September 1991
Ayr United 0, Hibernian 2
Perhaps not a classic, but nevertheless a massive result in Hibs’ history. Little more than a year after almost going bust and being swallowed up by Wallace Mercer’s takeover bid, Hibs beat Ayr on their way to Skol Cup glory. After beating Kilmarnock in the previous round, Hibs returned to Ayrshire and won at Somerset Park. Pat McGinlay and Keith Wright were the scorers, the latter managing to score in every round of the competition including the final against Dunfermline. It was Hibs’ first major trophy in 19 years.
26 August, 1992
Dundee United 2, Rangers 3
A five-goal thriller at Tannadice as Rangers battled past Dundee United on their way to another League Cup success. Ally McCoist, Richard Gough and Peter Huistra were their scorers in front of nearly 16,000 fans. Rangers went on to beat St Johnstone 3-1 in the semi-finals and then edged Aberdeen 2-1 in a tight final at Hampden when Dons defender Gary Smith scored on own goal after Duncan Shearer and Stuart McCall - now manager of Motherwell - traded goals.
31 August, 1993
Dundee United 3, Falkirk 3 (United won 4-2 on penalties)
The Falkirk manager, Jim Jefferies, watched his First Division side recover from a two-goal deficit to lead 3-2 in extra time - only to then lose out on penalties to United, then managed by Ivan Golac. A long-range effort from John Clark and a great team goal finished off by Andy McLaren had United in easy street, but Richard Cadette gave Falkirk a lifeline when he headed home at the far post in the 65th minute. Three minutes from the end the striker was on target again to take the tie into extra-time. Cadette was proving a real handful for United, and completed his hat-trick six minutes into extra time but United made it 3-3 in the 109th minute when Clark grabbed his second of the night from close range. Ironically, Clark was the only United player to miss as they ran out 4-2 winners in the shoot-out after Falkirk’s Greg Shaw put his spot kick past the post while McCall’s was saved by Main. It was left to the United substitute, Scott Crabbe, to send United into the semi-finals.
United lost to Hibs in the semi-finals at Tynecastle, but Golac would have glory in the Scottish Cup that season when United defeated Rangers in the final.
20 September, 1994
St Johnstone 1, Raith Rovers 3
Raith reached the semi-finals of a national cup competition for the first time in 31 years en route to their famous cup final win against Celtic. First-half goals from Shaun Dennis and Ally Graham at McDiarmid Park, and a late clincher from Danny Lennon, sent the Rovers through after John O’Neil had momentarily hauled Saints back into the game. With the Perth side pressing for an equaliser Lennon beat St Johnstone’s offside trap seven minutes from the end to turn a Colin Cameron pass into goal and prompt substantial celebrations among a large travelling support. Better was to come for the Kirkcaldy club, though, as they first beat Airdrie in the semi-finals then edged Celtic at Ibrox to make history.
20 September, 1995
Dundee 4, Hearts 4 (Dundee won 5-4 on penalties)
Arguably one of the best Scottish League Cup ties ever, and packed with drama. As Dundee and Hearts played a cagey goalless first 39 minutes at Dens Park, no-one could have imagined what lay ahead. A quickfire double from George Shaw in the 40th and 42nd minutes left Hearts stunned at the interval, but they came out with purpose in the second half and were level after goals from Dave McPherson and John Colquhoun. Paul Tosh then restored Dundee’s lead before Alan Lawrence’s last-minute equaliser forced this gripping battle into extra-time. Morten Wieghorst scored with a sublime effort from outside the box to put Dundee in front for a third time, but John Robertson again levelled. Penalties were needed to separate the sides and it was Wieghorst who tucked away the winning kick to spark a pitch invasion and scenes of jubilation amongst the Dundee fans. Dundee made it to the final, but lost 2-0 to Aberdeen.
18 September 1996
Rangers 4, Hibernian 0
A one-sided quarter-final as Hibs returned to Ibrox for the first time since losing 7-0 to Rangers in the league the previous winter - an occasion Easter Road manager Alex Miller described as the most embarrassing day of his life. This time, Hibs had former Ibrox favourite Ray Wilkins in their team, but the veteran was clearly past his best and the Edinburgh side were outplayed and must have been fearing a repeat when Gordon Durie gave Rangers the lead. Peter Van Vossen had replaced the injured Ally McCoist after half-an-hour and the Dutchman scored a double to increase Rangers’ lead. Darren Jackson missed a penalty before Jorg Albertz scored a spectacular fourth goal from a free kick in the 89th minute.
8 September 1998
St Johnstone 4, Hibernian 0
With names such as Peter Guggi, Paul Holsgrove and Klaus Dietrich in their matchday squad, this was no vintage era for Hibs as Alex McLeish continued his rebuilding job following their relegation to the First Division. Better times lay ahead for McLeish’s side, especially when Russell Latapy and Franck Sauzee arrived, but this was a work in progress and they were thrashed in Perth by St Johnstone. Nathan Lowndes started the rout in the 11th minute, then got his second before half-time after Gerry McMahon had also scored. John O’Neil made it 4-0 against the club he would soon join, but mercifully for Hibs there were no more goals. Saints marched past Hearts in the semi-finals at Easter Road with a 3-0 win, but despite taking the lead in the final, they lost 2-1 to Rangers.
1 December, 1999
Dundee United 3, Motherwell 2
Another Tannadice thriller in the now-rebranded CIS Insurance Cup as the competition entered the Millennium year. Craig Easton, Billy Dodds and Steven Thompson were the United scorers, with Derek Townsley and Shaun Teale on the scoresheet for Motherwell. United’s progress came to an end in the semi-finals at the hands of Aberdeen, who in turn lost to Celtic in the final/
1 November, 2000
Hearts 2, Celtic 5 (after extra time)
A pulsating quarter-final at Tynecastle, which was settled in style by Celtic after 30 additional minutes in what would prove to be a treble-winning season for Martin O’Neill’s side. With the game shown live on Sky, only 12,922 were in the ground to see a rollercoaster match. Colin Cameron sent Hearts into the lead in the 36th minute only for Stephen Crainey to equalise before half-time. Teenager Jamie Smith put Celtic ahead on the hour, but Cameron equalised from the penalty spot ten minutes later. Hearts were simply blown away in extra-time however, and goals from Colin Healy, Lubomir Moravcik and Jackie McNamara ended their resistance. Celtic beat Rangers in an epic semi-final then cruised past Kilmarnock 3-0 in the final on their way to a domestic treble.
2 December 2003
Aberdeen 2, Livingston 3 (after extra time)
One that Aberdeen fans will be eager to forget as they were beaten by eventual winners Livingston in a glorious season for the West Lothian club. In truth, Livingston were well worth the win, and had led twice in normal time through Lilley and Pasquinelli. A double from Steve Tosh kept Aberdeen in the game, but in the ninth minute of extra-time Lee Makel’s goal proved to be the winner. Livingston went on to beat Dundee 1-0 in the semi-final at Easter Road and with although they went into the final as underdogs against Hibs - who had beaten Celtic and Ranges en route to the final - they denied Bobby Williamson’s side with a 2-0 win at Hampden.
9 November, 2004
Livingston 0, Motherwell 5
Livingston may have been holders, but they came spectacularly unstuck at Almondvale as they were thrashed 5-0 by Motherwell. Partridge started the rout after three minutes, with Richie Foran grabbing a double, the late Phil O’Donnell getting in on the act, then substitute Wright wrapping up the win in the 90th minute. Motherwell beat Hearts in a titanic tussle in the semi-finals at Hampden, winning 3-2 after extra-time, but were hammered 5-1 by Rangers in the final in March 2005.
7 November, 2006
Celtic 1, Falkirk 1 (Falkirk won 5-4 on penalties)
Anthony Stokes may be a Parkhead favourite now, but he was the man who helped put Celtic out of the League Cup this year. Stokes was Falkirk’s goalscorer in extra-time after Maciej Zurawski had given Celtic the lead after 90 goalless minutes. When the tense cup tie went into penalties, Evander Sno was the man who missed, A sporting Gordon Strachan took the defeat on the chin and said: “Well done to Falkirk. We can’t make excuses.”
8 November, 2006
Hibernian 1, Hearts 0
Easter Road captain Rob Jones was the match-winner as Hibs gained a sliver of revenge for their 4-0 Scottish Cup semi-final thumping of the previous season. It was John Collins’ first match in charge as Hibs manager after taking over from Tony Mowbray, and his new charges responded in style with a dominant display against a disjointed Hearts, then being led by caretaker manager Eduard Malofeev. This was a stepping stone to Hibs lifting the trophy when they beat Kilmarnock 5-1 in the final.
31 October, 2007
Celtic 0, Hearts 2
Andreas Velicka was the hero for Hearts as he stepped off the bench to inflict a shock result on Celtic against the odds. The Lithuanian striker only came on as a 74th minute replacement for Calum Elliot, but within three minutes he had given Hearts the lead following a cut-back from Andrew Driver. Aiden McGeady and Chris Killen came close to equalising for Celtic, but in the 86th minute Velicka smashed an unstoppable shot past Artur Boruc to seal a memorable win for the Edinburgh side.
27 October, 2010
St Johnstone 2, Celtic 3
Celtic’s whirlwind start to this quarter-final almost came unstuck when they survived a spirited comeback from the Saints. Nothing other than a convincing win had looked on the cards for the visitors when they raced into a 3-0 lead within 13 minutes with two goals from Anthony Stokes, either side of a Niall McGinn strike. But Derek McInnes’ side grabbed a goal back after 31 minutes through Sam Parkin and Murray Davidson made it a nervous second half for Celtic when he pulled back another nine minutes after the interval. Celtic held on, but would lose the final 2-1 to Rangers the following March.
31 October, 2012
A grim night for Rangers at Ibrox. On the very same day the remnants of the ‘oldco’ club were formally put into liquidation, Rangers were humbled by their top-flight visitors. Ironically, it was two former Rangers youth players who helped put them to the sword. Brothers Graeme and Andrew Shinnie both scored and Gary Warren got the other goal for Terry Butcher’s Highlanders in a one-sided contest that reminded Ally McCoist of some tough times ahead.