A Sean Clare penalty was all that was needed to separate Falkirk and Hearts as the Jambos won their Scottish Cup fifth round tie.
The game was getting played in horrific conditions, with wind and rain making the game even more testing for the players. Little action occurred in the first 45 outside of a few fiery challenges and encounters.
Both teams were struggling to make headway in front of goal. Josh Todd missed the half’s big chance. He was put through on goal straight from a Robbie Mutch kick, but could only fire high and wide.
In the second half though things took a turn. John Beaton awarded Hearts a penalty after Liam Boyce was brought down in the box. Clare stepped up to dispatch the ball into the bottom corner, giving Hearts the advantage.
Falkirk would then hit the woodwork three times in ten minutes. Gregor Buchanan, Declan McManus and Gary Miller all striking the frame as the Bairns went agonisingly close to levelling the game.
It wasn’t to be though and it’s the Premiership Jambos who progress to the Scottish Cup quarter-finals. Here are three things we learned.
Another big moment for renaissance man Clare
Clare was a much-maligned figure at Tynecastle during the Craig Levein era. Under Daniel Stendel though, he has been reborn at right-back in the gegenpressing system.
In Scottish Cup action he bookmarked another chapter in his comeback story. Strong going forward and steely defensively, the Englishman stepped up to slot home a defining penalty for the Jambos.
It’s a further confidence boost for Clare amidst a good run of form.
Falkirk left lamenting the post
To credit Falkirk, they came bouncing back after Hearts took the lead. They created multiple chances, only to be denied on three separate occasions by either the post or the crossbar.
There’s perhaps a feeling of what would have panned out had even one of them landed in the net. It wasn’t to be though, and despite their best efforts, Falkirk are out of the cup.
Positives in both performances
Whilst one will obviously be happier than the other about this Scottish Cup outcome, both can take positves from this game performance-wise. Falkirk for instance know that if they raise their game to the levels they showed against Hearts, the Bairns will overpower most foes in League One.
For Hearts, it was all about winning, come hell or high water. Grinding out games the ugly way is a trait they’ll need in the Premiership’s basement battle and they showed it in spates against Falkirk.