First-team coach Jon Daly hopes drawing Auchinleck Talbot can act as a portent for what happened the last time Hearts played the Ayrshire junior outfit in the Scottish Cup.
Daly, who was at Dundee United at the time, needed no one to tell him what unfolded after Hearts met – and narrowly beat – Auchinleck Talbot in the fourth round in 2012; they went all the way to the final at Hampden, where they thrashed Hibs 5-1.
Hearts managed to overcome Livingston with a 1-0 win in yesterday’s fourth-round tie to extract a measure of revenge for being beaten by the same team 5-0 in a league fixture last month.
They can now look forward to another home tie with team of the moment Auchinleck Talbot. The junior club provided the biggest cup shock of the weekend with a 1-0 win over Championship side Ayr United in a fiercely contested Ayrshire derby.
“It’s a home tie, which you always want,” said Daly, who saw Hearts secure a place in the next round thanks to Sean Clare’s first goal for the club. “They [Auchinleck Talbot] are the lowest-ranked team in the competition so it’s a good draw and we’re happy.
“But we need to go and beat them. We can’t just think we’re through to the next round because football is not played on paper, it’s played on grass. We need to make sure we turn up and not give them any hope. I know the year we won the cup we beat them, so, hopefully, that’s an omen. But we won’t look too much into that.”
Talbot midfielder Stephen Wilson has welcomed the chance to play at Tynecastle. “Listen, it’s going to be hard,” he told BBC Scotland. “No matter who we got in the draw it was always going to be hard for us, but we are just going to come again and see what happens. You never know. It’s a massive place to come, so I can’t wait for it.”
Daly, who along with Austin MacPhee took charge of Hearts yesterday while manager Craig Levein served a touchline ban, was simply relieved to overcome the tough challenge presented by Livingston.
“We’re just happy to get through,” he said. “Cup games are always just about winning. The task before the game was to make sure we were in the hat, to give ourselves a chance of getting one step closer to a cup final.
“Livingston keep you honest. They make you fight for 90-plus minutes, they’re a credit to themselves.”
In other last-16 ties, Championship heavyweights Ross County and Inverness will meet in a Highland derby, holders Celtic are at home to St Johnstone, while Cowdenbeath or Rangers face a trip to Kilmarnock.
Hibs host Raith Rovers, Aberdeen or Stenhousemuir play Dundee or Queen of the South, St Mirren take on Dundee United and East Fife welcome Partick Thistle.
Full draw (ties to be played February 9): Ross County v Inverness; Hibs v Raith; Kilmarnock v Cowdenbeath or Rangers; Hearts v Auchinleck Talbot; St Mirren v Dundee United; East Fife v Partick Thistle; Aberdeen or Stenhousemuir v Dundee or Queen of the South; Celtic v St Johnstone.