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Hibs’ Scottish Cup Hoodoo Continues With Falkirk Defeat

Scottish-FA-Cup

Hibs’ hopes of a third Scottish Cup Final in four years were dashed at Hampden Park this afternoon thanks to a late ‘smash and grab’ goal from Falkirk’s Craig Sibbald.

Hibs dominated throughout, hit both the bar and the post and were denied a great chance when the linesman wrongly flagged Farid El Alagui offside when he was clean through with only the keeper to beat.

To make matters worse, two great chances were broken up when the ball struck referee John Beaton.

Alan Stubbs made one change to the starting XI that beat Hearts at Easter Road last Sunday with Scott Robertson returning from injury, replacing the cup tied Martin Boyle.

There was a minute’s applause ahead of the game in memory of former Hibs’ inside forward Tommy Preston and former Falkirk player and Hibs’ fan Cameron Armstrong.

Hibs started the game brightly and almost took the lead in the 4th minute when Jason Cummings found Dylan McGeouch on the right wing. The on-loan Celtic star then sent a dangerous cross into the six yard box which McCracken just managed to intercept, knocking the ball back toward his own goal. Jamie MacDonald did well to block and the ball rebounded to El Alagui who was on hs knees, but despite that he was still able to get his head to the ball. MacDonald recovered in time however and produced a sensational save to deny the Hibs’ striker.

McGeouch then produced a great run, beating several defenders before shooting inches wide.

In the 15th minute Jordon Forster was shown a yellow card after bringing down Taylor Morgan on the half way line as Falkirk fought hard to get back into the game.

Moments later, former Hearts’ winger David Smith was lucky to escape a similar fate when he blatantly dived in an effort to win a free kick on the right, but referee John Beaton waved play on.

Just before the break, Hibs had two chances to take the lead. Scott Allan sent an inch perfect through ball to Lewis Stevenson who found Farid El Alagui inside the penalty box, but the big striker’s effort flew into the side net. Two minutes later, a twenty-five yard strike from Fraser Fyvie was deflected onto the post by the fingertips of MacDonald and the ball rebounded into the grateful keeper’s arms.

Falkirk started the second half strongly and Blair Alston went close with a fierce 25 yard strike which Mark Oxley tipped past the post.

Hibs then gained the upper hand and created several great chances. On the hour mark, Allan sent a fantastic through ball to El Alagui who was clean through with only MacDonald to beat however as he rounded the keeper, the linesman raised his flag. TV evidence however clearly showed that the striker was well on-side when the pass was made.

Two minutes later an Allan cross found McGeouch at the back post but he mishit his shot before sending a cross over to Stevenson who blasted the ball over the bar.

Moments later Allan picked up the ball in midfield, beat three defenders before firing in a powerful shot which rebounded off the bar.

Cummings then put in Stevenson but his strike was deflected and flew into the side netting.

El Alagui went close with a header from Allan’s corner as Hibs totally dominated possession.

In the 74th minute however as so often has happened to Hibs this year, Falkirk hit on the break. Alston did well to break clear on the right before sending a great cross into the six yard area and Sibbald shrugged off the challenge by McGeouch to head the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

Franck Dja Djedje replaced Robertson then Dominique Malonga took over from Jason Cummings as Hibs looked for an equaliser.

Falkirk looked dangerous on the break and Paul Hanlon produced a sensational last gasp tackle to prevent Falkirk Sub Botti Biabi for adding a second.

Twice in the closing stages, passes to Lewis Stevenson were intercepted by the referee causing howls of protests from the Hibs’ fans.

El Alagui and Malonga both spurned half chances in time added on and Falkirk eventually held on to secure the win.

After the game Stubbs told Sky Sports ” That’s what happens in semi-finals, you have to take your opportunities. We haven’t done that today and that’s the reason that we haven’t put ourselves in the final. I don’t think anyone would deny that the best team hasn’t gone through. It’s as simple as that really. You can look at anything you want. They have had one chance and they have scored.

“You start to think, ‘is it going to be one of these days when balls are coming back off the post into the keepers hands, we hit the crossbar. I can’t fault their efforts, I really can’t. I am disappointed for them, I’m disappointed for the fans and I’m disappointed for the club because we should have been in the final today.”

Hibs: Oxley, Forster, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, Robertson, McGeouch, Allan, Fyvie, El Alagui, Cummings. Subs: Cerny, Craig, Stanton, Handling, Malonga, Djedje, Dunsmore

Falkirk: Macdonald, Duffie, McVracken, Grant, Leahy, Taiwo, Vaulks, Sibbald, Smith, Morgan, Alston. Subs: Bowman, Muirhead, Dick, Cooper, Blair, botti Bia-Bi, Ohara

Referee: John Beaton

Attendance: 21,227

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