SIXTEEN teams one dream! Yes, it’s Scottish Cup Fifth Round weekend and the road to Hampden gets ever closer for the eight sides who will advance to the Quarter Finals of the famous old competition.
Unlike our spoilt counterparts down south, the national Cup competition means something to the clubs up here and are all desperate for various reasons to lift the oldest trophy in world football.
For Hibs, it took them 114 years to get their hands on the trophy, and rid them of the longest running joke in Scottish Football in the process, and they won’t want to give up their defence lightly, especially at the hands of arch enemies Hearts. The matchup of the two Edinburgh rivals at Tynecastle is undoubtedly the tie of the round and Hearts will want revenge on the Hibees, who defeated them en route to Hampden glory last May.
Treble-seeking Celtic are seeking to extend their unbeaten domestic run of the season by entertaining Premiership bottom side Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Brendan Rodgers will no doubt be warning the runaway leaders against complacency, especially against a side with a great record of knocking the Hoops out the Cup. It’s a little over 17 years since Super Caley first went Ballistic at Parkhead and inflicted more Cup misery on them just two years ago, when a memorable 3-2 Semi Final win helped them go on to win their first ever major trophy.
Aberdeen are looking to end a 27 year wait for their last Scottish Cup victory, and a 17 year wait for their last Final appearance. If they are to progress to a second Hampden final of the season, they’ll need to overcome a tricky hurdle in Dingwall against a Ross County side determined to add the Scottish Cup to the League Cup victory they achieved 11 months ago. This promises to be an intriguing tie and was unfortunate not to be picked for TV, though the fans going will be glad of the 3pm Saturday kick off.
Last seasons finalists Rangers will be hoping that a Cup run will ease the pressure on under-fire manager Mark Warburton, and the manner of their defeat to Hibs still hurts the Ibrox hierarchy. They were handed their customary home tie in the draw and face Championship side Morton, who’ve stunned everyone by getting themselves into the playoff positions for a Premiership place. Jim Duffy’s men, who reached the League Cup Semi Finals, will be confident of causing an upset and can take heart from the fact Raith Rovers managed to dump Rangers on their own turf at this stage two years ago.
Another potential shock on the cards this weekend could happen at East End Park, as Championship side Dunfermline entertain Hamilton. The Pars will fancy their chances on their own turf against a Hamilton side, who’ve been struggling for form all season as they battle to avoid joining their rivals in Scotland’s second tier. Martin Canning will be reminding his side of their Cup humiliation of last season, when Annan Athletic trounced them 4-1, and a Quarter Final appearance would be a huge boost for his side.
The other two Premiership sides remaining in the competition go head to head at McDiarmid Park. St Johnstone, winners in 2014, entertain Partick Thistle, who last won a major trophy back in 1971. If the League meetings are to go by, this will be a close encounter and could even need a replay to determine who goes into the last eight.
So that means there are two guaranteed Non-Premiership teams going through to the Quarter Finals. Firstly, League One outfit East Fife, in a good run of form, take on Championship strugglers St Mirren, aiming to use their surprise last round win at Dundee as a springboard to progress in the competition and mask their diabolical League form. The other tie is at Somerset Park, where Ayr United take on the lowest rank club left in the tournament Clyde. Former Cup winning captain Barry Ferguson will be hoping his League Two side can cause an upset against their Championship opponents, who themselves are seeking a Quarter Final berth and the potential revenue that comes with it.
The Fifth Round line up has all the ingredients for a tasty weekend of Scottish Cup Football. A city derby, a tie steeped with underdog history, the prospects of David overcoming Goliath, all top division ties and the guarantee of two lower division outfits taking the next step of an unlikely Hampden dream.
Who knows what can happen in the Scottish Cup this weekend, one thing that’s for sure is that there will be plenty of talking points as the dream of Cup glory lives on for some.