Queen of the South were swept to the first Scottish Cup final in their 89-year history on a tide of emotion and goals here yesterday, as John Stewart came back to haunt Aberdeen. The Scottish First Division side's substitute sealed a stunning semi-final against the club who let him go two years ago, and will be back at the national stadium on 24 May. They could even face another First Division club, as the other semi will be between St Johnstone and the winners of the Partick Thistle-Rangers replay.
Three times Queen of the South led and three times they were dragged back, until Stewart's 60th-minute finish proved decisive. "Watching that game was a nightmare," said their manager, Gordon Chisholm. "We kept letting Aberdeen back in but the character my players showed was incredible."
Steve Tosh, one of three ex-Aberdeen players in Chisholm's team, stunned his former employers in the 22nd minute. Ryan McCann's free-kick from the halfway line was fumbled by the Aberdeen goalkeeper, Derek Soutar, and Sean O'Connor cleverly laid the ball into the path of Tosh, who curled a sublime right-foot finish beyond Soutar.
Aberdeen pressure brought an equaliser in the 36th minute. Barry Nicholson's free-kick looped towards Scott Severin at the back post, who kept the ball alive for Andrew Considine to plant a firm header past the dive of Jamie MacDonald.
No one in Hampden had any composure left after a blizzard of scoring as the sides swapped five goals inside 12 remarkable minutes early in the second half. In the 48th minute Stewart's cutback found Paul Burns, and although his first attempt was blocked by Severin, he rifled the second into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later a Lee Miller header forced MacDonald into a parry that fell to Nicholson to sidefoot home. O'Connor put Queen of the South 3-2 ahead in the 56th minute, steering a left-foot shot past Soutar, but Aberdeen levelled again when Miller flicked on and Considine pounced at the back post with an emphatic header. However, 90 seconds later Stewart thrashed his right-foot shot into the net.
Queen of the South weathered a storm when Zander Diamond struck the bar and then the post with his follow-up, but Aberdeen knew it was not their day.