Gretna 1 St Mirren 0: Deuchar shines while Gretna rise

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The Independent Football

A dozen seasons ago, Gretna came close to shocking Bolton in the English FA Cup before being edged out in the first round, 3-2, by a Wanderers side including the likes of Jason McAteer and Alan Stubbs.

Five seasons ago, they were still plying their trade in England's Northern Premier League, yet today, in only their fourth season in Scottish competition, they are hot favourites for promotion to the First Division and have become the first club from the Second Division since 1982 to reach the Scottish Cup semi-finals.

Saturday's victory over First Division St Mirren puts them in this evening's last-four draw alongside Hearts, who beat Partick on Saturday, Hibernian, who beat Falkirk, and Hamilton and Dundee, who will replay their quarter-final after a 0-0 stalemate.

Gretna's winner, a glanced header from a corner, came through the prolific Kenny Deuchar. Gretna's owner is an eccentric millionaire, Brooks Mileson and even before kick-off he was celebrating. One of his monkeys has just had triplets. His ground, Raydale Park, was packed to capacity. And the fans, entertained by a juggler, a pipe band, a kilted guitarist and fireworks, were already satisfied with getting this far.

"It's an exceptional achievement for everyone associated with the club, including the supporters," said the manager, Rowan Alexander, after extending the run. He was, he added, "a wee bit fed up" with some of the flak the club have had. Criticism persists that Gretna are buying success.

The footballing reality is that they are a decent side, albeit built with backing from Mileson, and they won on Saturday by playing attacking, passing football.

Goals: Deuchar (73) 1-0.

Gretna (3-5-2): Main; Birch, Innes, Townsley; McGuffie, Tosh, Nicholls, Skelton, McQuilken; Grady, Deuchar. Substitutes not used: Mathieson (gk), Shields, Baldacchino, McBride, Sloan.

St Mirren (4-4-2): Bullock; Van Zanten, McGowne, Potter, Maxwell (Mehmet, 81); Anderson (Murray, 60), Millen, Adam, Lappin; Sutton, Kean (Corcoran, 68). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Reid.

Referee: S Dougal (Scotland).

Booked: St Mirren Millen.

Man of the match: Deuchar.

Attendance: 2,850.