Falkirk fight on

Celtic 1 Johnson 66 Falkirk 1 James 82 Attendance: 45,261
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The Independent Online
Kevin James showed the same scant respect for the bookmakers as he did for Celtic's multi- million-pound strikers as Falkirk defied the odds to keep alive their dream of reaching the Scottish Cup final.

The 6ft 7in defender knocked the wind out of Celtic with his stunning 81st-minute equaliser in the semi-final at Ibrox, cancelling out Tommy Johnson's first goal for his new club, to set up a replay here on 23 April.

No one gave the First Division side a chance, probably not even their raucous 10,000 fans. James revealed later that the tipsters had provided the motivation to tear up the script and prevent Celtic making a record 48th appearance in the final.

"The bookies had us at 8-1 to win this," James said, "and everyone else put us down too. But we were always confident and all of that simply fired us up."

Tommy Burns could have done with something similar to inspire his side. The Celtic manager watched his players create a plethora of chances but too many of his expensive signings, particularly top scorer Jorge Cadete, seemed strangely subdued.

Possibly the speculation surrounding Celtic in the last month, culminating in rumours that Burns is to be replaced in the summer has taken its toll.

This though, was the kind of performance that pushes managers closer to the door rather than helping them. Burns said: "I'm very disappointed because we had a lot of chances but we will take it on the chin and come back here a week on Wednesday and do the job properly."

Celtic though will have to do it without Alan Stubbs. The defender was taken off after a 48th-minute collision with James and was detained in hospital last night with concussion.

Celtic have not won in five games since they beat Rangers in the quarter- finals and that tension showed in their early play. In attack they snatched at things and at the back they wobbled.

Scott Crabbe would have reduced them to a state of panic had he not been ruled off-side after putting the ball in Celtic's net in the ninth minute when Paul McGrillen's shot on the turn came back off the post to him.

Ten minutes later, Cadete squandered a wonderful chance after Johnson had set him up and then Andreas Thom missed from 12 yards in the 43rd minute when Paolo di Canio released the German.

Celtic bombarded Craig Nelson in the Falkirk goal after the interval but the best stop of all belonged to his counterpart, Stewart Kerr, whose one-handed save denied Kevin McAllister's searing shot.

Then, in the 65th minute, Johnson produced his first goal since his pounds 2.4m move from Aston Villa to put Celtic in front. Di Canio pounced when Falkirk failed to clear Cadete's initial thrust, set up his Portuguese colleague for a shot which Nelson parried, allowing Johnson to score from close range.

However, James had the last word, rising to powerfully head in a cross from the Falkirk captain Jamie McGowan.

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