Wednesday 25 January 2017, 19.45, Tynecastle Park
The Scottish Cup Fourth Round Replay between Hearts and Raith Rovers.
After being at Bonnyrigg Rose v Hibs at Tynecastle on the Saturday, it’s strange to be back three days later seeing two different teams at the same venue contest a Scottish Cup tie in the same round.
Championship side Raith Rovers fully deserved their late equaliser in the original tie, played the previous Sunday. Hearts had led through a Jamie Walker goal, but Raith grabbed a leveller in the last minute, Declan McManus diverting a volley by former Hearts favourite Rudi Skacel into the net from close range with his head.
It’s our third sighting of Rovers this season after seeing two of the Fife derbies against Dunfermline. We saw Hearts last on 30 December.
With Hearts boss Ian Cathro having only presided over one win in his first seven games in charge, The Premiership side had been quick to provide reinforcements to the first team squad in the January transfer window. Vastly experienced (he’s 37) former Newcastle and Fulham defender Aaron Hughes has signed up, along with Hamilton left back Lennard Sowah, Slovenian right back Andraz Struna and French midfielder, Malaury Martin. Igor Rossi, Alim Ozturk, Robbie Muirhead and Juanma have all departed the club.
Rovers’ form was even worse than Hearts had been. They hadn’t picked up a win since a 1-0 victory over Queen of the South in October. Manager Gary Locke drafted in Ryan Hardie on loan from Rangers and Ryan Stevenson after he was released by Dumbarton since the opening of the window. Stevenson was unable to play having already represented Dumbarton in this season’s Scottish Cup.
Raith would have taken a lot of confidence from the game on the Sunday and with several Hearts connections in the team, would be out to prove something. Kevin McHattie, Jason Thomson, Stevenson and Skacel have all been Hearts players. As have management team Locke and Darren Jackson.
McManus came into the Raith team after his goal on Sunday, replacing Chris Johnston who dropped to the bench. Novak and Cowie dropped out for Hearts with Prince Buaben coming in and youngster Rory Currie making a first start up front. Long term absentee Sam Nicholson also took a place on the bench after being out injured.
There were 10,740 at the game.
There was a bright start by the underdogs with a break down the right by McManus in the second minute which took them all the way to the by-line, but the ball was blocked behind for a corner which came to nothing.
In 4 minutes Buaben lost the ball to Callachan who played the ball forward to McManus, but a defender managed to block the Raith striker’s shot.
Hearts keeper Hamilton was lucky to escape in 6 minutes when his clearance was blocked by Stewart, but bounced to safety. There was no doubt that Rovers were up for this.
Some lovely football by Hearts in 8 minutes ended with Currie’s cross being cleared by M’Voto.
Walker showed great skill to take the ball past McHattie in 12 minutes, but his cross into the Raith box couldn’t pick out a target in the middle.
The same Hearts player burst into the box a minute later after a break of the ball but could only shoot over the bar, although it did take a nick off M’Voto.
Barr came forward for Raith in 14 minutes and as he got about 22 yards out he stopped and looked for options. With no obvious pass on, he shot for goal. The ball took a deflection off a Hearts defender and looped up over Hamilton and into the net to give Rovers the lead.
Hearts should have closed him down quicker, but there wasn’t much they could do about the deflection.
The goal had given the visitors confidence and they continued their good start when they came forward in 16 minutes and McManus almost picked out Stewart in the Hearts box with a cross from the right, but Hamilton got down to smother at the forward’s feet.
Hearts were seeing lengthy spells of possession but were struggling to create much against the hard working Fifers.
Stewart got in behind Souttar in 28 minutes as Raith came forward again, but Hughes blocked his attempted cross.
Walker did well in 30 minutes to turn away from Callachan, but his shot from 20 yards was dragged wide of the Raith goal.
Hearts looked to have a chance when the ball came to Currie on the edge of the box in 32 minutes, but the referee called play back for a foul on Kitchen when advantage should have been played.
In the next minute, Martin passed to Struna who dummied a Rovers defender on the edge of the box before seeing his left footed shot tipped over the bar by Cuthbert.
Johnsen won the ball in his own half in 36 minutes and charged into the Raith half. As he approached the box he had Walker on the right and Currie on the left. He played the ball right into the latter’s path and the young striker fired the ball home for the equaliser.
In 38 minutes, Johnsen laid the ball off to Walker inside Raith’s box, but his shot was blocked.
All square at the break and Hearts had started to boss the game after Rovers’ good start.
There was a delay to the start of the second half after one of the sprinklers on the pitch wouldn’t go off, but they got there eventually.
Stewart reacted quickly in 55 minutes to run towards Barr’s low ball into the Hearts box, running in between two Hearts defenders to drive his shot just wide.
A good ball across the face of the Rovers goal by Sowah in 58 minutes was cleared away by Benedictus as Hearts continued to dominate possession.
Thompson picked up a booking in 59 minutes for catching Walker late as Hearts came forward.
Hearts weren’t looking very comfortable at the back and had a propensity to take players on in their own half and losing the ball, with Sowah and Nicholson the main culprits.
A long range effort by Struna in 64 minutes was deflected by a Raith player and landed on the top of the net. The resultant corner came to the same player whose cross picked out the head of Currie, but he nodded straight at Cuthbert.
A quick break forward by Raith in 68 minutes saw Barr on the left finding Stewart in the box, but his touch was heavy and Hamilton gratefully dived on the ball.
A Hearts free kick in 70 minutes after Johnsen had been fouled was taken by Martin into the box. Currie headed goalwards and watched his looping header hit the top of the bar.
Walker went down in the Rovers box in 73 minutes under the challenge of M’Voto, but the ref waved away Hearts appeals. It certainly looked as though he had been clipped.
Hearts were really starting to put the pressure on in the final 20 minutes.
There was quite the stramash in the Rovers box in 80 minutes with McHattie headed the ball off the line before Cuthbert pushed away a Nicholson effort.
Raith’s attacks were becoming more and more infrequent, but they still looked a threat, while Hearts players were lining up to have a go at the Raith goal. Martin was the latest to see a shot deflected wide in 82 minutes.
Hearts were going all out to win the game in 90 minutes with a Struna cross in 88 minutes headed downwards at goal by Johnsen, but Cuthbert managed to push the ball away and then Johnsen’s shot across goal clipped the far post in the final minute.
Extra time and Rovers looked dead on their feet although not as much as Nicholson of Hearts did. It had been a surprise to see him straight back into the first team squad after returning from injury, but he looked dead on his feet 20 minutes after coming on at half time. He stayed on until after half time in extra time.
Two minutes into the first period of extra time Walker burst into the Rovers box and was felled by Benedictus who was booked. Penalty. With Walker still suffering the effects of the challenge, Martin took the kick and despite slipping as he struck it, he sent Cuthbert the wrong way to put Hearts in front.
It looked like Hearts would cruise through the remaining minutes, but Souttar was caught in possession deep in his own half in 101 minutes and Hardie exchanged passes with Stewart before shooting past Hamilton to bring Rovers level.
With a minute of the first period left, Walker burst into the Rovers box and was again brought down, this time by Benedictus. Another penalty. This time Walker took it himself and Cuthbert looked to get a hand to it, but couldn’t keep it out. 3-2 to Hearts.
Before the whistle blew Nicholson played the ball wide to Walker who returned the ball to the Hearts winger in the box, but he sclaffed his shot and it was easy for Cuthbert.
In 113 minutes Martin won the ball for Hearts and Walker played the ball on to Johnsen, but he shot wide.
A minute later some good work by Sowah saw him find Zanatta on the far side of the box. He cut it back for Johnsen, but he shot high over the bar.
Raith weren’t looking like coming back into the game again.
With 5 minutes remaining Walker played the ball wide to Sammon and his shot was parried by Cuthbert, but Johnsen was there to smash home into the empty net for Hearts fourth.
Some pushing and shoving in the Raith box right at the death saw bookings for Hearts Johnsen and Rovers McHattie.
A spirited performance by Raith who ran out of legs in extra time. Hearts controlled possession for most of the game and would point to Rovers goals being a deflection and a mistake, but Raith looked dangerous on the break many times.
A dramatic evening and one which would have delighted any neutrals in attendance.
Martin took pretty much all Hearts corners and free kicks and all of them were nearly good. It was a good run out for Currie who tried hard throughout and Walker was head and shoulders above everyone else.
M’Voto and Benedictus impressed at the back for Raith and Stewart was tireless with his running up front.
Raith Rovers have been knocked out of the cup to the eventual winners for the last four seasons in a row. It would be interesting to see what would happen next, with Hearts being drawn against holders and derby rivals Hibs in the next round.
No programme at the game as Hearts said they did not have time following the draw on the previous Sunday.
Full Time: Hearts 1 Raith Rovers 1 (Hearts won 4-2 after extra time)
Hearts: 1 Jack Hamilton, 27 Andraz Struna (Smith 91), 14 John Souttar, 5 Aaron Hughes, 46 Lennard Sowah, 6 Perry Kitchen, 8 Prince Buaben (Nicholson 46 [Sammon 108]), 88 Malaury Martin, 7 Jamie Walker, 30 Rory Currie (Zanatta 99), 20 Bjorn Johnsen. Subs: 11 Sam Nicholson, 13 Viktor Noring, 17 Oshaniwa, 22 Beith, 24 Liam Smith, 26 Dario Zanatta.
Raith Rovers: 1 Kevin Cuthbert, 14 Iain Davidson (Thomson 70), 5 Jean-Yves M’Voto, 6 Kyle Benedictus, 3 Kevin McHattie, 4 Ross Callachan, 12 Ross Matthews, 21 Jordan Thompson (Hardie 79), 11 Bobby Barr (Johnston 99), 9 Mark Stewart, 20 Declan McManus (Skacel 99). Subs: 2 Jason Thomson, 7 Chris Johnston, 18 Scott Roberts, 19 Rudi Skacel, 23 Conor Brennan, 52 Ryan Hardie, 55 Craig Barr.
Referee: John Beaton