Football: Final surge of Hearts

Falkirk 1 McAllister 85 Heart of Midlothian 3 Adam 5, 89, Mc Cann 90 At Ibrox Attendance: 31,587
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The Independent Online
HEARTS may not have lifted a trophy for 36 years, but they are now within touching distance of two going into the last month of the season. A dramatic finish saw two late goals from Stephane Adam and Neil McCann put the title-chasing Edinburgh side into next month's Scottish Cup Final.

There they will meet either Rangers or Celtic, who play today and bar their path to the championship, but as Hearts' jubilant fans drifted out of Ibrox, they had good reason to believe that maybe for once the Fates are looking kindly upon them. This is the club which let the Double slip through its fingers in the space of seven days in 1986, but this time they were the ones to produce the smash and grab.

First Division Falkirk may be verging on bankruptcy, but not in football terms. Alex Totten's adventurous side deserved another chance to try and reach their second successive cup final.

Indeed, Kevin McAllister looked to have forced a replay when he struck an equaliser with just five minutes left. The former Chelsea winger had swapped passes with Scott Crabbe before a sublime lob left Hearts' keeper Gilles Rousset stranded as the ball found the top corner of the net.

It was no more than 35-year-old McAllister deserved. He had run his legs off for his hometown club and made Hearts' highly rated young defender, Gary Naysmith, look ordinary. Falkirk never looked overawed, despite going a goal behind after only five minutes when top scorer Jim Hamilton provided a low cross to the back-post where Adam finished things off. They came close on several occasions, notably through McAllister and Albert Craig.

But Hearts refused to buckle under McAllister's late blow and sensed that time remained in their favour. McCann latched onto Adam's pass in the 89th minute and outstripped the Falkirk defence before crossing for the Frenchman to score, and then, in injury time, McCann's control took him away from Jamie McGowan before he clipped the ball past goalkeeper Paul Mathers.

Later McCann said: "Now we have every chance of winning the Double. We didn't play well but we showed the right determination and didn't settle for a replay and got our reward."

McAllister could only mutter: "Our players are in tears - this feels worse than when we lost in the final to Kilmarnock."

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