TWO years after suffering immeasurable heartache at the hands of Hibs in a Scottish Cup semi-final, Craig Sibbald was able to enact some revenge with the match-winning goal that inflicted a similar pain on Falkirk’s Edinburgh opponents.
On that occasion, the two sides served up a Hampden classic with Hibs emerging victorious after an incredible 4-3 comeback – a game kick-started, ironically enough, by a Sibbald opener. While yesterday’s contest didn’t match the 2013 showdown for drama, the means by which Falkirk made up for the disappointment mattered little to Sibbald who headed in the game’s only goal.
“Hibs had their chances and we needed to keep it tight,” Sibbald said. “The gaffer told us just to be patient and when we get our chance to take it, and I’m glad I took it.
“Everyone takes the mickey out of me because I’m small so they say I don’t get many headers, but I’ve actually scored quite a few. It wasn’t nice last time. We kept getting reminders and even now it still keeps happening. It was good to put it right today.
“We talked about how we didn’t want to go through that feeling again. We said it just before we went out.”
Falkirk would not have been in the position for Sibbald’s winner were it not for some heroics at the other end. Hibs wasted several chances, but a goal for Alan Stubbs’s side would surely have arrived were it not for the performance of the Falkirk back four and goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
The former Hearts stopper played in the 5-1 defeat of Hibs in 2012 and, having also featured in Queen of the South’s 3-2 loss to Rangers in 2008, will now be playing in his third cup final with three different sides.
“It’s a good stat I’ve got against my name,” admitted MacDonald, pictured. “There’s just something about the Scottish Cup which obviously agrees with me.
“Obviously it is difficult to beat the 5-1 and actually winning the cup, but this is definitely up there. I’m very fortunate that this will be my third Scottish Cup final because a lot better players than me have never played in one.
“The boys were fantastic. Hibs had chances, but they weren’t great chances, it wasn’t like they were clear-cut, and that’s a credit to the boys. They worked their balls off, to put it bluntly. It was just a fantastic team performance.”
For Hibs it was a familiar tale of Hampden woe as they dominated large periods of the game and yet couldn’t force the ball over the line.
Scott Allan was magnificent during a second half where he seemed to be at the heart of everything, in attack and defence. Allan was granted the man of the match award, but it was of no consolation to the midfielder.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” insisted Allan. “It’s about getting to finals and that’s what I wanted to do today. I’m really disappointed.
“With the amount of chances we had we could have won three games, never mind one. It’s happened too often this season. We have only got ourselves to blame.”