Cooper leads cup coup

Airdrieonians 1 Cooper 29 Heart of Midlothian 0 Attendance: 22,538
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FOR THE time being they might not have a home to call their own, but Airdrie did not look at all out of place in the fine surroundings of Hampden Park yesterday. In fact, the little First Division club will be back at the national stadium on 27 May to take part in the final of the Tennents Scottish Cup.

They made sure of that by beating Premier Division Hearts by the only goal of a semi-final that they never really looked like losing after Steve Cooper put them ahead after 29 minutes.

Airdrie's Kenny Black was cautioned yesterday and is now over the disciplinary points threshold. This means that he will not be in the Airdrie line-up to meet either Celtic or Hibernian in the final.

The pair, who replay their semi-final at Ibrox on Tuesday, will have taken note of the dour fighting spirit that Airdrie always have when it comes to cup tournaments. Already this season they have lifted the B & Q Trophy, which is competed for by teams from the First, Second and Third Divisions.

Airdrie's goal was taken perfectly by Cooper when he headed a cross from Andy Smith beyond Hearts' goalkeepe,r Craig Nelson, from close in, after he had been left unmarked.

Hearts could only create two genuine scoring chances, one in the first half when John Martin, the Airdrie goalkeeper, turned a John Robertson shot round his post, then in the second half when Dave McPherson had a header from a corner on the right knocked over the bar by Airdrie defender Jimmy Boyle. After this Airdrie did not look like passing up the opportunity of playing in yet another cup final.

Near the end, Hearts lost Robertson, their international striker. He was sent off after an incident with the Airdrie substitute, Anthony Smith. The latter was fortunate not to have been shown at least the yellow card for his part in the clash. Four Hearts players had already been booked, but it was never really an ugly or violent match.

Airdrie will be looking to go one better than they did three seasons ago, when they lost in the final to Rangers, and their opponents will not find it easy to stop them getting their hands on the Scottish Cup.