The romance of the cup is stronger than ever, with plenty of shocks and drama across the country.
It all started at Cowdenbeath’s frozen corner on Friday night, and carried on until Sean Clare’s first Hearts goal against Livingston. Here are five things we learned from a blockbuster Scottish Cup weekend.
Talbot’s dreams come true
Speaking to NTOF before Saturday’s clash against Ayr United, Auchinleck boss Tommy Sloan said: “we are capable of raising our game.” To say they just raised it would be an understatement, as Talbot secured their greatest ever result, defeating Championship side Ayr at a sold out Beechwood Park.
The goalscorer, Craig McCracken, is a former Ayr United player to add to the drama. Talbot outfought their Ayrshire rivals. Their desire to reach a famous fifth round tie sent them through to the next round of the Scottish Cup.
The celebrations will continue in the small Ayrshire village right up until they play Hearts at Tynecastle. Sloan’s men will be hoping for revenge, having suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Jambos in 2012.
Did the winter break take its toll
One reason for the many shocks could be the fact Premiership teams haven’t played since December 29th.
Stenhousemuir looked sharper than Aberdeen at Pittodrie, as they secured a famous 1-1 draw in the Granite City. Ross County comfortably swept aside a deflated Motherwell side at Fir Park, and Dundee only just managed to scrape a draw against Queen of the South.
The top sides in the country were given a real run for their money over the weekend. They may wonder if a lack of games affected their Scottish Cup chances.
Gauld comes good
One team that did not suffer from a winter break hangover is Hibs, and Ryan Gauld drove them to an easy 4-0 victory over Elgin City.
Sure, this was only a League Two side, but Gauld looked like the player Neil Lennon needs. The former Dundee United midfielder blew Elgin away at Easter Road. It seems as though he’s improved as a player in Portugal. His real test will come on Wednesday night against Motherwell.
Steve Clarke’s Stewart suspicions
Whilst his team progressed to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, that wasn’t the main talking point from the game. Instead it was Steve Clarke’s colourful post-match comments about Greg Stewart’s move to Aberdeen, saying the deal had a “slightly strange smell about it.”
The deal has clearly left a sour taste in the mouth for Clarke. The Killie boss is annoyed by Stewart’s decision to move back to the Dons, despite playing excellently for the Rugby Park side in the first half of the season.
St Mirren show much needed grit
When St Mirren went two goals down to Alloa, and new signing Brad Lyons was sent off, the writing was on the wall for Oran Kearney’s side.
A second half fightback saw St Mirren secure a much needed victory. A defeat to Alloa would have been damaging to St Mirren’s survival effort. With victory, however, they now have some sort of confidence heading into the Premiership fixtures.