Football: Booth's smooth strike

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Aberdeen. .1

Hibernian. 0

KNOCK-OUT competitions may derive glamour from their unpredictability but for once the form book proved as reliable at Tynecastle as it did at Celtic Park in the other Scottish Cup semi-final.

That said, Aberdeen's victory over Hibs was in grave doubt until the final whistle. Scott Booth, scorer of the game's only goal, manoeuvred the Dons into a winning position but it was their goalkeeper, Theo Snelders, whose breathtaking last-minute save from substitute Gareth Evans finally piloted them into the final.

It was no surprise that Booth, five of whose 15 goals this season have come in the Cup, should have been the decisive figure. A significant contribution was expected and even a frustrating first half during which he suffered a series of hefty knocks and looked totally out of sorts failed to blunt his killer instinct when his chance finally arrived. With 10 minutes of the second period gone Paul Kane, the former Hibs midfielder, surged to the bye-line and cut the ball back perfectly for Booth to side-foot past an unbalanced John Burridge.

Aberdeen's scorer was not alone in performing poorly in the opening 45 minutes. Either the Ibrox defeat on Tuesday had left a scar or the demands of a tortuous season were at last starting to sap their strength. Whatever the reason, the Dons began leaden-footed. Through sheer will they held the edge in terms of possession but it took 28 minutes for Burridge to find gainful employment.

Boosted by the return of Murdo MacLeod and Gordon Hunter, the Edinburgh side, in contrast, looked sharp and eager. But it was the forward pairing of Keith Wright and Darren Jackson who carried the greatest threat and both forced Snelders into a demonstration of his goalkeeping prowess. As Evans was to discover at the death the day simply belonged to Snelders, Booth and Aberdeen.

Hibernian: J Burridge; W Miller, G Mitchell, G Hunter, S Tweed, M MacLeod (G Evans, 69 min), D Lennon (N Orr, 80 min), B Hamilton, K Wright, D Jackson, P McGinlay. Manager: A Miller.

Aberdeen: T Snelders; S McKimmie, G Smith, R Aitken (Ten Caat, 74), B Irvine, A McLeish, L Richardson, P Mason (D Shearer, 87), S Booth, P Kane, M Paatelainen. Manager: W Miller.

Referee: D Syme (Rotherglen).