Saints ease into fifth round

Jack Wilshere felt Arsenal answered some of their critics with a
5-2 demolition of Reading at the Madejski stadium.

Arsene Wenger and his team had come under intense scrutiny
following their ignominious Capital One defeat at Bradford last
week, but they re-discovered some of their free-flowing spirit in a
morale-boosting performance.

“It was tough last week after the disappointing result at
Bradford. We had to be strong as they are a tough team who are
fighting relegation,” said Wilshere.

“Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla were different class.

“Any sort of victory tonight would have been welcomed. The boss
put three up front and it worked.

“The club is very strong. The way we played, I think we saw some
of the old Arsenal tonight. We needed to bounce back and we must
push on now. We have got a difficult game at Wigan coming up
now.

Walcott played through the middle and was rewarded for an
enterprising display with a goal, although that was overshadowed by
a sublime hat-trick from the peerless Cazorla.

Walcott said: “We don’t really take notice of the outside. We’re
a big family and we know our quality and that we’re good
enough.

“I enjoyed playing up front and the boss gave me that
opportunity. I thought I did very well and the players around me
always make my job easier.”

As to his protracted contract talks, Walcott added: “Talks are
ongoing and it’s going to be a slow process. It’s taking a long
time but hopefully something will happen soon.”

Wilshere is especially eager to hasten the process, and joked:
“I’ve been working all year on him.

“But that’s between Theo, his representatives and the boss but
hopefully we can sign him up.

“He showed he can do it up front and hopefully he can play there
in the future.”

The First Division side held Steve Lomas’ men at bay for 45
minutes but the Perth outfit slowly eroded their hosts’ resolve
after the break.

David McCracken stole in to open the scoring in the 54th minute
and the Blue Brazil soon contrived to offer the SPL side a second
goal.

Steven MacLean obliged from the penalty spot when Thomas Flynn
fouled Murray Davidson in the 76th minute, before Gregory Tade
ensured the Saints’ safe passage to Paisley with a close-range
finish three minutes from time.

Hamilton will play Dunfermline in the last 16 after overcoming
fellow First Division outfit Dumbarton 3-1 at the Bet Butler
Stadium.

Alister Crawford put the visitors ahead with a stunning effort
in the 24th minute, before Michael Devlin doubled Hamilton’s
advantage four minutes before the break.

Dumbarton’s players rallied after the interval, though, setting
up Chris Turner to head home from close range in the 57th minute,
but Accies substitute Grant Gillespie struck from deep inside the
penalty area with 75 minutes on the clock.

The Sons’ chances of success suffered a further setback when
Turner saw red three minutes later and Hamilton progressed to the
next round.

Peter Weatherson scored a hat-trick as Morton earned a trip to
Dundee with a resounding 6-0 win over Highland Football League
hopefuls Turriff United.

It took 37 minutes for Morton to open the scoring through
Weatherson but the First Division outfit would not look back.

Michael Tidser registered his first goal from the penalty spot
in first-half stoppage time following Ross Anderson’s foul, adding
a second from long range in the 63rd minute.

Morton were out of sight when substitute Peter MacDonald found
the back of the net in the 77th minute, Weatherson quickly laying
claim to the matchball with two goals in the last 10 minutes.

The visitors will face St Mirren in Paisley in the next round
thanks to goals from David McCracken, Steven MacLean and Gregory
Tade.

Cowdenbeath’s Central Park was able to host the tie at the fifth
time of asking, and the Irn-Bru First Division side can be proud of
a competitive performance, even if they were ultimately undone by
the superiority of the visitors.

Having played out a pulsating 2-2 draw with Hearts in the
Clydesdale Bank Premier League two days ago, St Johnstone boss
Steve Lomas opted to shake things up with five changes to his
starting line-up.

Weary legs were of greater concern to Cowdenbeath player-manager
Colin Cameron. The former Scottish international omitted himself
from the starting line-up after featuring in his side’s 2-0 defeat
at Falkirk on Saturday, their first game in three weeks.

The ring rusty part-timers submitted the running of the play to
their full-time counterparts but created an effective wall between
St Johnstone and their goal frame, with the early chances for the
SPL side coming from long range.

No clear-cut chances were forthcoming in the opening 30 minutes
– and it was the hosts who came closest to opening the scoring.

Slack play in the centre led to a Cowdenbeath break with Mark
McKenzie being given sufficient time to whip in a deep cross from
the left. Lewis Coult’s cushioned header found Dean Brett but the
attacker’s drilled shot went past the far post.

With the hosts finding their feet the game opened up and Liam
Craig was granted too much space in a central area where he cracked
the post from 20 yards out.

At the other end McKenzie went close with a low shot which
evaded the far post before Lewis Milne led a counter-attack that
ended with a powerful drive from 25 yards that Alan Mannus did well
to tip over the crossbar.

Either side of the interval the visitors were wasteful in front
of goal with Nigel Hasselbaink meekly passing into the arms of
goalkeeper Thomas Flynn, before Tade rolled an effort from the edge
of the box wide of the target.

The visitors finally found their route to goal in the 54th
minute. With the imposing Joe Mbu off the park receiving treatment,
Cowdenbeath failed to sufficiently deal with a set-piece and were
lucky to clear for a corner.

Their luck ran out though – although Flynn pulled off an
outstanding save to deny Steven Anderson, the ball was knocked out
to McCracken who drilled the ball through a ruck of bodies and into
the net.

The following 10 minutes saw St Johnstone waste two great
chances to settle the tie.

Hasselbaink’s low drive from 15 yards was blocked by his own
team-mate, a wandering Tade, then Anderson headed over from almost
underneath the opposition crossbar.

The visitors’ wastefulness almost cost them immediately with
McKenzie being sent free on the right – but once again Cowdenbeath
saw a low effort inch just wide of the far post.

It was through the aid of the referee’s whistle that St
Johnstone saw their passage assured.

Flynn was adjudged to have brought down Murray Davidson after
the midfielder had raced onto Craig Beattie’s pass and attempted to
round the keeper – and MacLean despatched the resulting spot-kick
into the bottom corner.

Tade rounded off the win three minutes from time when he broke
the offside trap, rounded Flynn and rolled the ball into an empty
net – staking a claim for a starting place in this Saturday’s match
at Aberdeen in the process.