Football: Harper's bazaar

Stenhousemuir 0 Hibernian 4 Harper 50, 77, Tortolano 63, O'Neill 68 Attendance: 2,500
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The Independent Online
DREAMS can be sweet, but sooner rather than later cold hard facts take precedence. Stenhousemuir, the shock Scottish Cup team of the season, are out of the premier national tournament and Hibernian go through to the semi-finals.

Perhaps it was time for one of the bigger clubs to establish their place in the pecking order as far as Stenhousemuir - nicknamed the Warriors - were concerned. It took Premier League side Hibernian until the second half to do this, but in the end they did it emphatically.

Two goals from Kevin Harper and one each from Joe Tortalano and Michael O'Neill brought the curtain down on Stenhousemuir's surprising and exciting cup performance.

But eventually they had to bow out and those of us reflecting on this season's Scottish Cup will remember the little guys of Stenhousemuir who, during their run, brought some romance back into the game.

It was, however, to be Hibernian's day. They went in goalless at half- time after a spirited and sometimes bold performance by the home team, but emerged in the second period as a side with a purpose.

Ochilview was not a desirable place to come to on such an important occasion, but the team from the capital city eventually got it right on the day.

Kevin Harper put Hibs ahead after 50 minutes when he shot home from only a couple of yards out. The feeling was that this was only the start of it as far as the senior side were concerned.

It took only 14 minutes more for Hibernian to stretch their lead when Tortalano scored with a 20-yard free-kick, and then, after 70 minutes, Michael O'Neill made it 3-0 with a left-foot angled shot from inside the box, which left the home goalkeeper Michael Harkness with no chance of making a save.

With 13 minutes remaining, Harper, a much talked-about rising star in Scottish football, who had a lean time of it in the first half, completed the scoring when he latched on to a loose ball to shoot beyond Harkness.

A good day for Hibs, a sad one for Stenhousemuir; but consolation for the home club is that at least they can look forward to aiming for promotion to the Scottish First Division. As for the Premier League club, they can now entertain realistic dreams of Scottish Cup glory.

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