Falkirk 2 - 1 Brechin: David Smith saves Bairns
With a side from outside the top-flight participating in three of the last nine Scottish Cup finals, a place in the domestic calendar’s showpiece occasion has been far from the preserve of the elite in recent years.
There is every possibility another team not currently residing in the Scottish Premiership will by running out on to the hopefully-revitalised Hampden turf come May. There are guaranteed to be at least five lower-league outfits in one of the most open quarter-final draws in memory. Rangers and Hibernian, in particular, are perfectly capable of emulating Queen of the South, Gretna and Ross County by reaching the last two.
Falkirk are another side who deserve to be included in that conversation, having proven themselves very comfortable in the latter stages of this competition.
The Bairns, defeated finalists in 2009 and semi-finalists as recently as 2013, reached their fourth quarter-final in ten seasons with a 2-1 win over Brechin yesterday.
“With the holders [St Johnstone] going out, it just shows you what this competition is like,” said Falkirk manager Peter Houston, who lead Dundee United to the trophy in 2010. “Arbroath were even beating Hibs at one point. The results this weekend open the competition right up.
“There will be, at most, three Premiership teams in the least eight. So here’s hoping Falkirk don’t get one of them.”
Houston, who conceded his side were far from their best for large swathes of the contest, saw Falkirk take the lead after 11 minutes as David McCracken rose to head home a well worked corner-kick routine involving Blair Alston and Luke Leahy.
The visitors deservedly restored parity from the penalty spot after the break, with Alan Trouten converting after Gerry McLaughlan was felled in the box by Peter Grant.
There was a sting in the tail for Brechin as Rory Loy danced into the box and unleashed a low shot on target. That effort was parried by Graeme Smith but David Smith, pictured, was on hand to bundle home the rebound.
“I thought we were the more likely winners for 70 minutes, we were different class,” said defeated manager Ray McKinnon.